Editorial: Roses and Raspberries

Editorial: Roses and Raspberries


ROSE (roz) n. One of the most beautiful of all flowers, a symbol of fragrance and loveliness. Often given as a sign of appreciation.

RASPBERRY (raz’ber’e) n. A sharp, scornful comment, criticism or rebuke; a derisive, splatting noise, often called the Bronx cheer.

We hereby deliver:

ROSES to Angelita Sanchez and other members of Timber Unity for making their voices heard.

Sanchez is the owner of Angel’s Rock ’n’ Roll Construction Inc., a small Sweet Home business with a fleet of three used dump trucks. She’s also the secretary of Timber Unity, the grassroots organization of farmers, truckers and loggers that sprang up last year in response to House Bill 2020, a measure that aimed to roll back the state’s greenhouse gas levels by requiring businesses that emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide to purchase carbon allowances.

That didn’t sit well with Sanchez, who feared the new requirements might force her out of business. Although she says she’s “never been the least bit political,” she got involved in the fledgling Timber Unity movement and has emerged as the organization’s most visible spokesperson.

We support the goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions, but in a state where the urban-rural divide seems to grow deeper every year, we call on Gov. Kate Brown and the Legislature’s Democratic leadership to pay close attention to the needs of Oregonians who live and work outside the state’s urban centers. Cap-and-trade will be at the top of the agenda when the Legislature convenes in Salem next week, and convoys of Timber Unity members will be converging on the Capitol. We hope lawmakers will listen to what they have to say.

RASPBERRIES to using your cellphone while you drive.

We’ve all heard this sermon before, but it bears repeating in the wake of last month’s sentencing hearing for Robert Gene Mayfield. On Jan. 17, Mayfield was sentenced to 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide and fourth-degree assault in the death of Neil Nightingale.

On Jan. 21, 2016, Mayfield was driving a utility truck on Highway 20 just outside Sweet Home near the Bauman Mill when he swerved to avoid a truck turning in front of him, caromed off another vehicle and slammed into the log truck that Nightingale was driving. Nightingale, a 39-year-old family man from Sweet Home, died eight days later.

Forensic evidence presented in the case showed that Mayfield was using his cellphone when the fatal crash occurred.

Mayfield, who also lives in Sweet Home, apologized profusely to Nightingale’s family at sentencing, and character witnesses described him to the judge as a good man. Nightingale’s family described the unbearable pain of their loss. Neither family will ever be the same.

Almost everyone carries a smartphone these days, and we all know how hard it can be to resist the siren song of our devices when they chirp with an incoming text message. Yet we also know there’s only one thing to do when that happens: ignore it.

Turn off your phone before you get behind the wheel. The only thing you should be paying attention to when you’re driving is the road.

ROSES to all the compassionate and goodhearted people working to end homelessness in the mid-valley.

There’s little doubt that the number of unsheltered individuals and families in our communities is growing every year. It’s a multifaceted problem driven by a wide range of factors, ranging from drug abuse and alcoholism to mental health issues, from job loss and unexpected medical bills to the soaring cost of rent in a tight housing market.

All the more reason, then, to celebrate the people who are rolling up their sleeves to make a difference on this issue.

In Benton County, the Housing, Opportunity, Planning and Equity Advisory Board — HOPE for short — is getting up to speed as it takes up the torch from its predecessor, the Housing Opportunities Action Council. HOAC did a lot of good work but ultimately faltered under the weight of public opposition to some of its initiatives and its own unwieldy organizational structure. HOPE, a 21-member stakeholder group, is bringing renewed energy to the task under the leadership of program manager Julie Arena.

In Linn County, an organization called Creating Housing Coalition is floating a proposal to build a tiny house village in Albany. The plan calls for building 25 or so simple, compact dwellings and making them available at below-market rents to people experiencing homelessness. The group is partnering with SquareOne, a Eugene nonprofit that has already built two similar communities in Eugene and is working on a third.

Turning the tide on this intractable social problem will not be easy, but the optimism of organizations like these is inspiring.

“I want to end homelessness,” HOPE Co-Chair Jim Moorefield bluntly told the group during a meeting last week in Corvallis. “I think it’s a myth that we can’t.”


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