COVID vulnerable
Social distancing, stay-at-home orders, essential workers, flatten the curve, school closures: These are words and phrases that can be heard daily and have become the new norm during this COVD-19 pandemic. Family lives and routines flipped upside down, parents are being asked to work from home whenever possible and are expected to watch their children, since childcare may not be possible. 
Children’s day to day lives have also completely changed and for some, not for the better. Children are unable to play with their friends and for some, unable to eat the meals that would have been provided from their school. The parents whose lives have felt the direct impact of COVID-19 may feel frustrated, stressed, scared, and even short-tempered or angry.  Those children, whose escape was leaving the house to go to school, are now home bound and vulnerable.
With financial uncertainty and the increase in stress on parents, we will unfortunately see a rise in child abuse and neglect cases. Now more than ever, we need to support struggling families and protect vulnerable children. The Oregon Child Welfare Department report that calls into the hotline are down 70 percent. Washington reports similar drops in calls to their hotline. 
During these perilous times, there are resources available to parents who are finding themselves in desperate need of help.
1. Women, Infants and Children (WIC), 541-506-2610
2. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), 503-945-5600
3. Hood River County School District offers meals to children in need. They provide meals at various school sites M/W/F from 9-11 a.m. and various mobile sites.
April is Child Abuse Awareness month and during COVID-19, the youngest children who are unable to speak up for themselves are the most at risk.  If you see someone you know struggling, talk to them. If you suspect abuse or neglect, please call your local law enforcement or the child abuse hotlines In Oregon, call 1-855-503-7233; in Washington, call 1-866-363-4276.
From all of us at Columbia Gorge Children’s Advocacy Center (
Leanna Grant
Hood River

Washington coverage lacking
I was disappointed reading the April 8 Columbia Gorge News that had gobbled up our White Salmon Enterprise, local paper, for the lack of coverage and input from Klickitat County’s West Side.
I don’t know if it is because of lack of contributions from those of us in Klickitat County, or because the paper is now primarily a Hood River/The Dalles paper. Of course, I was one of those from our side of the river that didn’t contribute, so will assume part of the blame. Still, by my count, there were 14 Oregon-centric news articles/briefs to only four on the Washington side. Of the “Voices,” all 11 were by Oregonian contributors. Let’s encourage Washingtonians to do a better job contributing “Voices” and newsworthy articles.
Peter Leon
Editor’s note: Thank you for your thoughts and your support for the Enterprise. To clarify the situation, the White Salmon Enterprise was not “gobbled up,” it was closed by the prior owner and employees were terminated. If not for new owners, now the Columbia Gorge News, the Enterprise, Hood River News and The Dalles Chronicle  would no longer exist.

Hear all sides
As we all traverse the strange new world that is the COVID-19 pandemic, we are fortunate to have a “local” newspaper to keep us grounded. Although we may feel a sense of loss of our individual small town paper, the Columbia Gorge News will still be way more local than the mainstream media that bombards us 24/7.
Growing up in Parkdale, I remember feeling like those teams from Hood River were our dreaded rivals to be despised. Attending HRV in the early 1980s, it was those kids from White Salmon and The Dalles that were our rivals not to be trusted. At Oregon State University, I soon felt that if I met someone from the “Gorge,” they were practically my brothers. My son, who is in the U.S. Navy, feels that anyone from Oregon or Washington is practically kin.
The point is that the “new” paper is still a local, small town read and we are fortunate that we have it. As a commercial fruit grower with conservative-leaning ideals, I will say it is intriguing that the first few issues of the Columbia Gorge News opinion page have not had glaring cartoons with anti-Trump propaganda such as we could count on weekly from our former paper. Also, I chuckled some when I read the first letter to the editor from a gal residing in Dufur that felt her district was getting the short end of the paper due to her conservative values. It seems the increasingly left-leaning Hood River proper readership may be getting a little “equalization” from the right-leaning Wasco County with the new paper.
Let’s all enjoy our new paper and be willing to listen to all sides.
Jeff McNerney
Hood River

Preserve refuges for nature
Trump has proposed that 97 National Wildlife Refuges and nine fish hatcheries be opened to more hunting and fishing. With wild animals becoming assaulted by climate change and loss of habitat, this is no time to threaten them more.
Proposed expanded hunting in Oregon would include migratory bird, quail and partridge hunting at Hart Mountain, goose hunting at Nestucca Bay and migratory bird hunting at Wapato Lake. The proposal also includes seven areas in Washington, including the Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery, which would allow migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting (grouse, partridge, bobcat and porcupine) and big game hunting (mule and black-tailed deer, elk, bear and wild turkey) for the first time.
If finalized, the proposal would bring the total amount of expanded U.S. hunting and fishing lands to nearly four million acres under the Trump administration, following an expansion of 1.4 million acres in 2019. If you think this expansion is as crazy and destructive as I do, you may comment on the proposal until June 8. Visit, docket number FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013.
Tracie Hornung

Brown shows leadership
Few can argue that Gov. Kate Brown’s recent Executive Order isn’t good news for the climate and public health. But I, my Environmental Entrepreneur (E2) colleagues, and much of the Oregon business community see it as great news for our economy as well.
This progress has not come easy. When reflecting on Oregon’s efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, the old adage “lead, follow, or get out of the way” comes to mind.
In 2019, the legislature had the chance to lead by passing an ambitious cap and trade carbon pricing program. When that effort faltered, the legislature could have followed the direction of stakeholders and struck a compromise in 2020. But when a landmark climate bill stalled for a second consecutive year, it was time for the legislature to get out of the way and let Gov. Brown lead. She rose to the occasion and exhibited true climate leadership, issuing a comprehensive Executive Order to reduce emissions across our state and economy.
In my work as the director for strategy and integration with Tofurky, we are constantly looking for overlap among actions that improve our bottom line, support our employees, provide a better product for our customers and improve the impact our company has on the planet. Thoughtful climate policy can leverage these outcomes across nearly all sectors.
Whatever the business’s motivation to act, Gov. Brown’s leadership sets the stage for new investment and job growth and ensures Oregon leads as the world transitions to a carbon-constrained future.
Chris Dennett

Babitz for County
Please join us in voting for Arthur Babitz for County Commission. Now more than ever, we need his analytical mind and dedication to public service. As we emerge from this virus crisis, local budgets will be under severe strain. There are many challenges to local governments in the best of times, and these are very tough times. Just as he spearheaded the turnaround of the City of Hood River’s fiscal situation a decade ago, Arthur would bring his proven experience and clear thinking to finding the path forward for our County.
Former County Commissioner Maui Meyer
Former Hood River Mayor Paul Blackburn
Biden team now?
I imagine many progressives will be upset that Bernie has dropped out of the 2020 race. It seems wise that he left the campaign at this time as his staying in longer would likely set up a repeat of 2016 — a divided Democratic party. His candidacy may have already done that and it will take serious communication with his base to get them to switch their loyalty to Biden. Biden can combat “the Bernie Problem” by running with much of his cabinet already in place; a cabinet composed of many of the wonderful candidates who, until recently, were running against him in the primaries. While it would be a shame to move many of the 6 very strong Senators who ran, from their important seats, there are many others who would be great for his cabinet if they were interested. Potential dream team: Stacey Abrams for vice president, Pete Buttigieg for Secretary of State, Senator Kamala Harris for Attorney General. Senator Elizabeth Warren for Secretary of Commerce or Treasury, John Hickenlooper for Health and Human Services, Jay Inslee for EPA or Interior administrator, Julian Castro Immigration Secretary or again as Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Andrew Yang Office of Management and Budget, Tom Steyer for Secretary of Energy, to name a few. Putting these qualified people who have already built support with democratic voters, into cabinet positions before the election could ensure that Biden wins in November. Those who agree with this premise should write to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — They need to hear from you. There is no reason that a candidate can’t fill these positions ahead of time to let voters know what to expect. The DNC’s support of this idea would help to strengthen Biden’s chances of success in 2020. Imagine having all of these wonderful folks on the campaign trail and united!
Sarah Bellinson
Hood River

Supports recall
State Sen. Chuck Thomsen walked off the job multiple times over the last legislative session. In doing so, he obstructed the basic function of our state senate and brought legislation to a halt. This is no way to run a state government and certainly not the job he was elected to do.
In Oregon, as in any republic, we elect our representatives to introduce, debate, then pass or reject legislation on our behalf. It is not practical to hand over every issue to a statewide referendum; especially a complex, hot button issue that would surely attract huge out of state dollars from big business.
For the Oregon State Senate to function, elected officials must do their jobs. They must study the issues, host town halls, and listen to their constituents. They must find common ground with representatives from around the state and craft laws that make sense. Sen. Thomsen, however, chose to block any legislation he disagreed with rather than trying to reach compromise. The walkout also blocked all the other important, bipartisan legislation that would have left our state more prepared to deal with our current homelessness and mental health emergencies, and for upcoming ones such as earthquakes and wildfires.
If we want a functioning democratic system here in Oregon, it is our duty to take action. We must do our duty as citizens and recall Chuck Thomsen for abandoning his duty as State Senator. I urge my neighbors to participate in our democracy by sending a clear message to Chuck Thomsen. Sign the petition at
Mike Collins
Hood River

Not a real president
Trump was not only late to test thoroughly (hasn’t yet used what powers he actually does have for weeks now, not even to get enough cotton swabs vital to testing!), which has cost huge preventable loss of life.
He has prevented an earlier return to work, which these tests are necessary to make happen.
Figure it out — even Dr. Fauci cannot hide these facts, indisputable. Even Trump TV cannot wiggle out of them, just ignore them. What Fox and Trump call “fake news” are what the civilized world calls “Facts!”
Why is this? Doesn’t he want to win reelection at least to stay out of a NY State prison where Andrew Cuomo is the only person who could pardon him?
Answer: He is lazy from birth and cannot change now. His fortune was inherited and he burned through that until he got a TV show where he could pretend to be somebody smart. And he has the attention span of a gnat unless it is about him. (Aides have to put his name in many spots in reports to get him to read them—or “to look at them?” You wonders what his reading skills are.) And he is so dishonest, he can’t keep it straight in his own mind — whatever the name of that condition is where you say what you want to believe and then just believe it.
And, saddest of all to say, he has hollowed out every part of the government he can reach by firing the competent people he suspects have principles and either left their positions blank or filled them with hirees whose loyalty and willingness to flatter him is the primary job requirement if not the unofficial job description.
God help us and keep us from massive more preventable deaths and a worldwide depression. “Trump Contagion” “Trump Depression.”
Or maybe the “Trump-Wuhan Pandemic” if the guilt for loss of life is fairly divided!
NOT a real president, but he plays one on TV!
Bob Williams
Hood River
Recall the recall
I found Lara Dunn’s defense of her recall campaign against Chuck Thomsen in the April 8 edition of paper to be amusing. She claims the recall has vast amounts of support but what she conveniently omits is that the entire effort is being funded by a big money political machine out of Portland made up of extremist special interest groups. Together, they have already contributed well over $100 thousand just to fund signature gathering. Not one dollar comes from Chuck’s senate district. If they should be successful in getting the recall on the ballot this is a drop in the bucket compared to how much they would spend in an actual election. You can expect a flood of negative TV and mail pieces being forced upon our community. Lara’s innocent little grassroots recall of Sen. Chuck Thomsen is now being controlled by Portland political operatives who have now hired a consultant (Winning Mark), who worked for Kate Brown in her last campaign. Hardly a volunteer-led effort.
What Lara and her local friends fail to appreciate is that when Chuck and his colleagues left Salem, they were standing up for people like me and other working families who were extremely concerned about the costs that Cap and Trade would have imposed on us. Lara apparently doesn’t know very many members of the Ag industry in our valley. If she did, she would have known that Oregon Farm Bureau was strongly opposed to Cap and Trade as well. The legislators that left Salem during the February session were simply saying that Cap and Trade was such a costly piece of legislation that Oregon voters should have a chance to vote on the specifics contained in the bill. That’s it. And because Chuck Thomsen wanted all of us to have a chance to vote on an extremely controversial bill, Lara Dunn thinks he should be recalled.
I say let’s recall the recall.
Loran Ayles
Hood River

Make up your mind
Do you care about slowing the spread of COVID-19? If so, stop golfing. There are currently 1,633 confirmed cases in Oregon. We’ve closed schools, parks, trails, and stores all in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, so why is the golf course still open? While golfing is allowed under the Governor’s orders, it makes zero sense to allow a tourist heavy destination to continue operating. Nobody wants to admit that when we go out, we are contributing to the spread of the disease. I want to spend time with my friends, my grandparents, and even my teachers, but there are no exceptions to the rules that we must follow to protect our community. The virus doesn’t care if you’re a golfer, worker, or healthcare professional. Wearing a mask may help slow the spread of the virus, but it isn’t an excuse to go out and endanger others. Do you care about your friends, family, and community? If so, stop golfing.
Erick Lizama
Hood River

Rent relief needed
Thanks for the ways to help in these difficult times (“How to Help during COVID-19” by Trisha Walker, Columbia Gorge News, April 15). We can also make a difference by talking to our members of Congress.
Let them know America needs rent relief: One-third of renters were unable to pay rent in April. A national moratorium on evictions and $100 billion rent relief are needed in the next relief package, along with a 15 percent increase in SNAP (food stamps). Our calls, letters, and virtual visits to our representatives asking for this can help stem the flood to homelessness. Together our requests can help insure the next national relief package battles hunger, homelessness, and the pandemic.
Willie Dickerson
Snohomish, Wash.
New tax scam
In the middle of the worst health and economic crisis of our lifetimes, here we are again with the Republicans screwing people further with another give-to-the-rich tax scam. Unbelievable!
We’ve now learned through the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation that more than 80 percent of the benefits of a tax change that Senate Republican sneaked into the recent COVID support legislation will go to those who earn more than $1 million annually. The sneaked clause suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability.
The move will cost us taxpayers about $90 billion in 2020 alone, and is part of a millionaire-supporting set of tax changes that will add close to $170 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years.
It is an outrage that Republican vultures focus on feathering their own nests and courting their wealthy supporters at this time of widespread crisis. COVID rescue funding obviously should support low- and middle-income individuals, not the wealthy. Regime change can’t come fast enough.
Pamela Starling

Help students
Across the country, as well as in our communities, homes are now classrooms. Lesson created by our teachers arrive in paper packets and on the Internet. But some kids literally do not have the basic supplies they need to engage in distance learning: Pencils, paper, glue sticks, scissors, rulers, and books. And, not all students and teachers have good Internet infrastructure, routers, or wifi service required at home to access the new “virtual” classrooms.
The Hood River County School District has already spent over $12,000 on home supplies for students in need and anticipates at least a $40,000 cost to bring adequate internet access into students’ and teachers’ homes.
While some local providers have generously donated wifi services, the school district must cover the costs of installation and hardware. Here’s how you can help: A generous donor has offered the Hood River County Education Foundation a $12,500 matching grant to energize our community in a fundraising effort to support these emergency expenditures by the school district. We have already reached $7,500 in this matching campaign, but our goal is to reach the full match by the end of April. We must make sure that ALL students get the opportunity to learn.
If you give now, the matching grant will double the impact of your donation. For each dollar you donate, the HRC School District will receive an additional dollar in matching funds. The residents of Hood River County have always been very generous in supporting our students and teachers, and our support is needed now. Contribute online at, or send a check payable to HRCEF, and mailed to: COVID-19 Emergency Fund, Hood River County Education Foundation, 1011 Eugene Street, Hood River, OR 97031. Thank you for supporting our teachers and students during this incredibly challenging time.
Pat Evenson-Brady
Hood River 

Return Nisley
I have practiced law Wasco County for 47 years. Starting in 1974, Wasco County has been served by only two District Attorneys. Bernard L. Smith was Wasco County’s District Attorney from 1974 to 1998. In 1996, Smith hired Eric Nisley as Deputy District Attorney.
In 1998, Smith was elected as a Circuit Court Judge. Following his election, Nisley was appointed to replace him beginning Jan. 1, 1999, and he has held the position ever since. I recommend and support Eric Nisley’s re-election.
In arriving at this recommendation, I am not unmindful that Eric has gone through a 60-day suspension of his law license. He made a mistake when he provided inaccurate information to the Oregon State Bar and he has paid for that mistake. However, I feel that we must balance this suspension against his excellent long-term service as our districtaAttorney. This balance favors him continuing in office.
Nisley has common sense and judgment in fulfilling his prosecutorial duties. He has always been reasonable in negotiating resolutions that gave criminal defendants incentives to comply with the law in the future.
 On the other hand, he could be very tough on defendants who deserved it. He has and can ably try a case when necessary.
Not only is Eric a skilled and capable prosecutor, but he is also an effective office manager.
An earmark of a well-managed office is low staff turnover. When people begin working for Nisley, they stay. His chief deputy, Leslie Wolf, has worked with him for 22 years. His other staff attorney, Sara Carpenter, has worked in the office for over eight years.
Every Deputy District Attorney that has left his office has moved out of the 7th Judicial District.
Nisley has other staff employees who have worked in his office for as long as he has been in office.
I urge all Wasco County voters to join with me to return Eric Nisley to office.
Jim Habberstad
The Dalles
Where are you, Anna Williams?
Dear Rep. Anna Williams,
I tried to log on prior to the public meeting you called on April 16,  advertised to connect with you. I was denied access. It was invitation only.
Let’s try that again and expand your platform to all people of your district. Were you screening people? Thank you for trying to reach out to your district that you serve, I hope the next one is all inclusive. Where are you, Anna Williams?
Barb Hosford
Hood River

Re-elect DA Eric Nisley
I’ve had the pleasure of working for District Attorney Eric Nisley as the Victim Assistance Coordinator for over 20 years.  Nisley prosecutes felony assault, property, drug charges, and homicide cases as well as administration duties in the District Attorney’s Office. The office runs smoothly, thanks to his coordination and respect for his staff. 
Nisley holds offenders accountable while supporting victim rights. He works diligently to get restitution for victims, always taking into consideration victims’ wishes when resolving cases. The criminal justice system can be frustrating, but I have watched many times as he helped victims work through the system to find justice.
Nisley has endorsements from local law enforcement, fellow attorneys, Wasco County citizens and Crime Victims’ United. Crime Victims’ United was founded in 1983 and they advocate for crime victims’ rights. As a result of their hard work, victims have rights that include notification of hearings, right to speak at sentencing and notification of a defendant’s release. It is an honor for Eric Nisley to have earned this endorsement.
A strong character, patience and compassion are necessary attributes to be an effective district attorney, and he has these qualities.
Please join me in voting to re-elect Eric Nisley as Wasco County District Attorney. 
Judy Urness
The Dalles

Swift for Wasco County
In these especially uncertain times, I am reminded of the vital importance of shelter and health care.
Marcus Swift, with a long history as a public servant and experienced problem solver will be a strong advocate for both.
He supports lower housing costs and more affordable housing for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities; full public health funding and increased mental health resources are additional priorities in his campaign for Wasco County Commissioner.
Commissioner Steve Kramer has failed to be a leader on the critical issue of housing. He has also failed to support, fund or understand the absolute necessity of a top-notch public health department. We are all painfully aware of this need during this pandemic.
Cast your ballot for Marcus Swift, a changemaker for Wasco County.
Connie Krummrich
The Dalles

Swift shines
The coronavirus has instantly changed our lives. We have experienced and heard about many acts of heroism and kindness. We have also experienced and heard about the failures in our existing structures to help people through these devastating times. Our lack of an adequate social safety net leaves so many of us vulnerable.
A bright light is shining in Marcus Swift, candidate for the Wasco County Commission. He has great compassion and empathy for those who are suffering—working families, small businesses, people with adverse health conditions, veterans, seniors. He understands that this is a time for everyone to work together to solve these problems. He listens with an open heart and open mind. His progressive ideas on affordable housing, improved public health, bringing more living-wage jobs to our area and increasing transparency in the county government are sorely needed.
As an attorney who does considerable pro bono work, a small business owner, an advocate for working families, Swift deeply and personally understands the issues facing many of us right now.
He will work to enhance our public health system, the opposite of what his opponent, Steve Kramer, did when he tried to withdraw Wasco County from the North Central Public Health District and by reducing its funding these past few years.
Marcus Swift has my vote, and I encourage you to give him yours — for a Wasco County Commission that works for all of us.
Carole Anderson
The Dalles

Support USPS
As the granddaughter of a post office worker and as someone whose family owns property in rural Oregon, the USPS is a mainstay of our communities.
Privately owned delivery services can, and do, refuse to deliver to distant addresses or under difficult circumstances.  If they do deliver, the charges are often onerous for poor or elderly citizens.
Our founding fathers realized that we needed a reliable and universal means of communication — that’s why the postal service is included in the Constitution.
I urge Sen. Merkley, Sen. Wyden and Rep. Walden to demand that Congress protect the USPS from the venal demands of the administration that it be privatized to benefit their wealthy donors.
Kerry Moore
The Dalles

Reconsider, SDS
I am writing to publicly encourage the SDS Lumber company to cancel their plans to log the lower portion of Spring Creek, a White Salmon River tributary near Husum. The proposed logging area is entirely inside the area that 30 years ago was set-aside as part of the White Salmon Wild and Scenic River Corridor and was supposed to have been purchased from SDS because of its importance. Indeed, as far as I can determine, it is the only forested stretch of the entire White Salmon River that the public has been able to access. For years, SDS has generously allowed public foot traffic in this beautiful piece of woods. Salmon spawn in Spring Creek. Indeed in March, The Enterprise newspaper announced a large grant to study the possibility of removing an earthen dam (located just above the fork in the road between upper and lower Spring Creek Roads) and opening more of Spring Creek to salmon spawning and salmon recovery. A few years ago, when SDS logged the small area just north of Lower Spring Creek Road, they logged to just short of the dam, leaving only half a dozen spindly oak trees to shade the creek, removing every single conifer on their land. A repeat along the rest of Spring Creek will most likely end any salmon recovery dreams. The woods are also the only known home of a rare and probably delicious mushroom.
Michael Beug, PhD

Support Swift
I want to thank Steve Kramer for his decades-long service to Wasco County.
But it is my opinion that it is time for him to hang it up.
Part of being in touch with an electorate is being sensitive to when constituents are clamoring for change, and then moving aside to make way for the next generation, rather than clinging to a role at all costs.
Too often, career politicians lose touch with the people for whom they serve, and start to blur lines with a sense of impunity.
We need a fresh face on the Wasco County Commission Board and that’s why I am voting for Marcus Swift, who offers new ideas and a wide range of leadership and experience to Wasco County. As a lawyer, he also has a keen understanding of and respectful for legal boundaries.
He has already given so much to the community through consistent pro-bono work and advocacy for vulnerable populations. I believe that we as a community are only as strong as our weakest link, and Marcus has contributed much to strengthen those least able to protect themselves.
Additionally, Marcus Swift is a small business person and brings fiscal acumen to the table that keeps finances in balance and wisely used. He’s a small business champion, and that’s precisely what we need as our county continues to change.
But what really motivates me to support Marcus is his problem-solving, pragmatic approach that is politically independent; I feel that this will represent all of us, all the people of Wasco County.
I hope fellow area residents will join me in supporting Marcus Swift for Wasco County Commission Board of Directors — it’s time for a fresh approach and a new direction that provides strong leadership.
Dawn Rasmussen
The Dalles

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