Letters to the Editor for Jan. 22, 2013

Camas education was a blessing

I am writing this letter to encourage Camas residents to show their support for the upcoming Camas School District replacement levies on Feb. 12.

As a junior at UC Berkeley I have been living away from Camas for almost three years now. In those three years I have experienced many new things and met many new people, but there is one thing that continually surprises me.

Until leaving Camas, I never knew how blessed I was to be a student in the Camas School District. I have volunteered at Berkeley High School, where the teacher turn-over rate is the highest in the state of California and metal detectors are at every entrance.

I have met people who attended high schools all over the country, from high caliber Ivy League feeder schools on the East Coast to inner city schools in LA where its more about keeping kids safe than teaching them math and English.

I would not have had this exceptional educational experience if it weren’t for Camas’ history of supporting funding for public schools. These levies support educational excellence in our schools by ensuring that the district has no trouble maintaining day-to-day operations, leaving them free to focus on what matters most — your child’s education.

The M&O levy pays for many essential items including teaching positions, classroom supplies, school safety and security, extracurricular activities, substitutes, and student transportation.

The technology levy supports educational technology in all classrooms, something Camas has always been a leader in providing to students. These funds help teachers teach to the best of their abilities, with new, effective tools, in safe and reliable environments.

During my time at Camas High School I was an active participant in student leadership, serving as ASB president my senior year.

I remember working with Superintendent Mike Nerland and Principal Steve Marshall to advertise the importance of the replacement levy up for vote that year.

At the time, I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Camas always passes levies, I thought. Why are we working so hard for something we know will pass? But now I see that without this hard work, without the unrelenting canvassing, and constant effort to spread information about the vote, we would be taking what we have for granted. With each day I spend away from Camas schools, I understand my privilege more and more.

The Camas School District is not only an excellent academic and athletic environment, it is a supportive and encouraging community that shaped me into the student, and the person that I am today.

But it is only able to do so with the support of our community. Thank you for your votes in the past, and thank you for your votes on Feb. 12.

Hannah Elise Jones

CHS Class of 2010

UC Berkeley

Class of 2014

BPA towers would be eyesores

I would personally like to acknowledge and thank the representatives from the city of CAmas who attended the Jan. 10 BPA meeting at Liberty Middle School.

Those who attended the meeting were Mayor Scott Higgins, City Administrator Lloyd Halverson, City Councilman Steve Hogan and Community Development Director Phil Bourquin. Washougal City Administrator David Scott was also present. They all were looking out for our cities’ best interests, now and into the future.

Collectively, they all delivered messages to the BPA representatives asking that the new proposed mega-monster towers be placed underground. This would only be 1.3 miles through our cities’ urban areas.

You won’t have to live next to these towers to be impacted; they will be a huge eyesore on everyone in Camas and Washougal. As one speaker at the meeting put it, “this is an opportunity to remove this scar from our city’s landscape.”

Hopefully, BPA will do the right thing for the interest of both our cities, but if they do not, I have no doubt our community officials will “go to war” for the continued quality livability of both our towns.

Robert Nevin

Camas

City needs to come clean on tax rates

I think it is time for the Washougal City Council and their staff to use some of their over-priced water and come clean with their water and sewer customers about the hidden taxes in our utility bills.

For years these hidden tax rates (now over 20 percent on water and 10 percent on sewer bills) have been concealed and never disclosed on the bimonthly utility bills we receive.

Oh right — these taxes are not really hidden. You can find them in the Washougal Municipal Code – somewhere. If you haven’t read the municipal code lately, you are not alone.

But if you come to City Council meetings to complain about covered-up utility taxes, you will likely be admonished for not having read the entire code as one council member proudly announced he had. Unless he committed the code to memory, I’m not sure how that is important to the average citizen.

I ask the City Council and its staff to be open and honest about hidden utility taxes amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. It is time for the City Council to justify these massive taxes on our water and sewer rates.

These appear to be taxes inflated with city staff benefits and a high-priced department head position that is not filled by anyone, among other things.

It is time to disclose these taxes on each and every Washougal utility bill sent to the city’s customers.

Don Weidner

Washougal

Teachers should not be armed in schools

To those who might be somewhat ready to support Liz Pike’s “Allow Teachers to Carry Concealed Weapons to School” proposal I would suggest the following:

  1. Please read Leonard Pitts’ Columbian editorial of Jan. 14: “An Armed Society etc.” (The solution to too many guns is not more guns. If we allow teachers to be armed where does stop?)
  2. Please attend a school board meeting of your choice and have a discussion with those who would be most affected by Ms. Pike’s proposal.

My limited research has indicated little to no support for having teachers carry concealed hand guns.

Think about it: Teacher has a concealed weapon either on his/her hip, in her hand bag or in a school room desk. We have to assume it is quickly accessible, loaded and ready to fire. Do I need to go any farther? Any way you look at it would be a scenario for disaster, in my opinion.

Last but not least, do you know the accuracy range of a hand gun-pistol? Check it out — not very far. My understanding is that a hand gun is a defensive weapon to be used at extremely close range by someone who knows what he or she is doing – like a well trained police officer.

My parting shot is please do not arm our teachers or make it legal for teachers to carry a concealed weapon. If just one teacher brings a concealed weapon to school we would have to assume that all teachers have done likewise, thereby putting all teachers in harm’s way. The logical conclusion to this scenario is scary.

John Raynor

Camas