Spirit of Grace garden

Wow, what a wonderful surprise to see the "Two Churches and a Garden" article in the paper today!

When I was hired to coordinate the Hood River Spirit of Grace garden in 2015, I remember walking around in a field of grass, looking at the space and trying to imagine all the possibilities.

At the time, I thought my job was to create a garden and organize volunteers, but it soon became clear that it was so much more than that.

Cultivating the earth is part of human survival, and sharing this experience with other members of this community changed my life forever. The joys of gardening, and the benefits of eating fresh, organic food, form strong connections and have the power to uplift the human soul.

I want to take a moment here to acknowledge the many people who made the garden possible in those first three years. This was a labor of love by so many individuals, and it is amazing to see this project still continuing to blossom.

If you’re interested in participating in the Spirit of Grace Garden, stop by the FISH Food Bank at 1130 Tucker Road or send an email to Marly Beck at fishgardenvc@gmail.com. Thank you!

Susan Randolph

Hood River


Referring to the Feb. 17 letter to the editor titled "Spare Me, GOP," I am extremely disappointed with Columbia Gorge News and especially the Editors Note that was added, that suggested the Klickitat County Republicans support the formation of an “armed anti- government organization in Klickitat County.”

The letter claimed the source of this support was a KCR (Klickitat County Republicans) Facebook page post by KCR Chair Lisa Evans inviting readers to join a non-partisan Liberty First University Online Constitutional Training with KrisAnn Hall.

The Klickitat County Republican Party has been vocal condemning violence conducted in the Capitol as well as Portland, Seattle and elsewhere. Claims suggesting that Klickitat County Republicans are “anti-science, anti-truth, anti-democracy and anti-governing ideology" (whatever that means) are patently false.

We are strongly constitutionalists, believing that the Bill of Rights are to protect our God given rights.

While our approach to governing is different from those espoused by the Democratic Party, we fully support their First Amendment Rights to free speech.

We do not support attempts to restrict our God given rights. At a minimum, the Columbia Gorge News should have reached out to Lisa Evans before publishing such a hostile and incorrect letter to the editor.

Peter Leon


An era ended

The era of half truths, and outright lies that the Trump administration once jokingly dubbed “alternative facts” ended on Jan. 20. An era ended, but not before the nation watched in horror on Jan. 6 as the “stop the steal” mob violently smashed their way into the US Capitol and brought our democracy to a shocked standstill.

That mob was incited and inflamed by the last and biggest lie that Trump told; the lie that the election was stolen. Democratic process was fractured that day but not broken.

Impeachment was necessary to document the truth about Trump’s role in the insurrection.

In the end, the evidence in the Senate trial forced Republican leader Mitch McConnell to publicly refute Trump’s lie that the election was stolen. McConnell’s speech laid the blame for the violent actions of the insurrection mob at Trump’s very feet.

Every lawmaker and every voter should think deeply about what McConnell belatedly concluded. If we merely go back to politics as usual without examining our personal responsibilities in promoting truth and exposing lies, the passions of future mobs may yet again threaten our democracy.

Perhaps the novelty of years of Trump’s little lies or “alternative facts” conditioned too many of us to accept lies as a normal thing, just Trump being Trump.

Consider a few examples: Trump at a rally claimed, “I brought so many new car plants and jobs to Michigan;” fact, there were no new auto plants and actually 3,000 fewer jobs for auto workers by election time. Or Trump’s claim, “China will pay for the tariffs;” the reality is that importers pay the tariffs and then we all pay the higher prices for imported goods. His repeated claim, “Mexico is paying for the border wall;” fact, American taxpayers are paying for it. Trump’s claim, “COVID-19 will magically go away in the spring;” fact, by October, 220,000 were dead.

Later on Trump mocked the press coverage of raging infections and deaths, lamenting, “COVID, COVID, COVID, you won’t hear another word about it the day after the November election;” the tragic truth is 496,000 Americans are now dead.

James McKee

White Salmon

Vaccine comfort

Yesterday (Feb. 24) was the day my husband and I received our first COVID vaccinations.

We were delighted about how well thought out and smoothly it went. Our initial sign-up was very easy. As soon as we qualified by age, I called the Health Department and was told to go on their website, which I did. Right at the top of the page is a banner that says, “CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR A COVID VACCINE." We clicked on that and filled in the information requested and I was able to pick a time and date for me and then my husband. Doesn’t get much easier than that. I was delighted.

We drove to the college.

As we got up the hill near the college, we saw the first of the signs directing us to the building. What a big building! It was just right for the needed space. Once we got inside, we were guided by smiling, friendly people.

Everything was explained to us and we were moved from station to station where we got instructions and filled out paperwork. Hardly any waiting and there was a great big window through which we could see the landscape. Once we got our shots, we waited 15 minutes, during which time I noted the screened area with a couple of beds for folks who might need them. Not being used, but available. There was also some food available for those who might need it.

All in all, it was a great experience and we already have our appointments for our second shot. This was as memorable as getting the sugar cube with the polio vaccine when we were kids.

Thank you for making it all possible.

Sandee and John Burbank


Oppose SB 16

Oregon Senator Findley is on the committee hearing Senate Bill 16. This bill would violate Oregon’s land use laws by allowing up to 100 new houses not related to farming to be scattered across 200 acres of exclusive farm use lands in Eastern Oregon bordering Idaho.

These are productive farming and ranching lands. Farming and ranching make up Malheur County’s largest job provider, generating over $350 million annually in agriculture sales.

Housing and food production should not be played against one another in this way by treating working lands as vacant lands.

This bill would harm the eastern Oregon border region permanently. It would take investment away from Ontario, which has plenty of land available for residential development.

Please ask Senator Findley to oppose SB 16. Allowing homes on farmland that are not related to farming runs counter to Oregon’s land use program and sets a terrible precedent.

Sheila Dooley


Vaccines all around

I have had the good fortune to be an office volunteer in Hood River County and a vaccinator in Goldendale, helping get vaccines into as many arms as possible as well as being the recipient of both vaccines myself. In every contact, whether I was the patient or the volunteer, I met with incredibly organized, giving, professional and caring people who understand their value in helping to end this international emergency.

When I have gone to the site to sign up as a volunteer, many times the slots are already filled.

The Biden administration has sensibly loosened the rules for who can be a vaccinator, allowing nurses, doctors and PAs with a medical license in good standing within the last five years to become a vaccinator even if their licenses are no longer active.

There are many ways to help in this effort including office work, answering phones, directing traffic, welcoming people, drawing up medication as well as giving the actual shots.

This is a national effort that can help bring us all together for the common good. Let’s unite against this common foe — let’s get ‘er done!

Sarah Bellinson

Hood River


When I go to work on a nice day, I watch as the school kids stop playing together and are told to line up but be 6 feet apart.

Doesn’t matter that they were just playing together seconds ago. They are all wearing masks and are required to use hand sanitizer before entering the school.

I was overhearing a teacher talking to one of my high schoolers about what school is going to look like when they are able to go back to in person learning.

She explained that you will be required to use masks at all times, stay 6 feet apart, and have no physical contact with friends or teachers.

One of my teenagers in taking shop class over the internet. That makes perfect sense in the world we live in now. I know a high schooler that hasn’t had physical contact with his parents since last March even though they live in the same house. They make him wear a mask at all times in the house unless he is eating, taking a shower, etc.

I worked in a prison many years ago and the more I hear and see how our kids are being treated, I realize that prison would be a better place for them than this environment we continue to let prosper.

I’m beginning to wonder how many people truly care about the psychological damage that is being done to millions of kids.

The survival rate for most of society is very high but we are acting like our kids should be in bubbles with feeding tubes and VR headsets attached to them until the unelected Fauci says it is OK. When is the last time you have seen anyone in public hug or shake hands?

Our society becomes feared in seconds these days thanks to the media and the hemming and hawing “experts” they put in the spotlight. Fear and reason are like oil and water.

Doug Geary

Hood River

Sale has impact

The upcoming sale of SDS will have major impact across five counties.

Please be aware that all assets of SDS Lumber Company, based in Bingen and White Salmon, are being put up for sale this spring.

SDS owns about 90,000 acres of timberland in five counties in the central Gorge, plus the land where the White Salmon grocery and library are located.

However this sale proceeds, it will have major impacts on this entire area. Please visit the Friends of the White Salmon website (friendsofthewhitesalmon.org) for an excellent summary of the issues, maps of SDS holdings, and a discussion forum where you may post comments and concerns. The communities which will be impacted need to make their concerns and wishes known.

Marion Fox

White Salmon

Schools should wait

These are my responses to a Hood River County School District survey.

Vaccinations are projected to be available by June 1 in Oregon.

School-by-computer has worked so well we should continue until whole families are protected from a new vector: their own kids.

CDL must remain a viable option. Families should have a choice if schools are to open. Too hard? Then stay closed. Children don’t want to infect their parents or grandparents. And we don’t want it either. Remember it’s only a few more weeks.

Opening up schools pre-vaccination amounts to having a Hood River Sturgis Rally. There will be a local surge. Educators, especially, should be aware of scientific reality. Observe, record, repeat, replicate, report. Reason, wisdom, and science say we should wait.

Schools will not open until teachers and administrators are vaccinated because they know of their substantial risk from kids sharing COVID. Parents are closer to their children than teachers ergo at even greater risk of contracting COVID if schools re-open.

There is substantial CDC concern that COVID variants are more transmissible and continue to emerge and evolve, perhaps to become seasonal like flu. Without reducing transmission, a more lethal variant could emerge killing more than the current 2.5 million people.

Opening schools when we are so close to protection is like jumping from an airliner because it was going to land soon anyway. Compare infections when we locked down to now. Tiny fraction. Same protection though: None. So how can you justify opening when we are so close?

Pressure to open has a political component. Controlling the virus is in the domain of science. “Political Science” is an oxymoron. Don’t cave to virus-enabling constituencies.

Staying closed won’t make any school board heroes, but a super-spreader emergence will result in plenty of villains. Everybody will know who caused local families’ sickness and death.

John Wood

Hood River

Respect works both ways

I see the Biden/Harris administration has gone all-in for the radical LGBTQ agenda. It’s not a real surprise, but it is disappointing.

Men have been dressing like women and using women’s toilets for decades, probably centuries, without causing any particular problems. Some do it because they genuinely feel more comfortable there. Some do it because they get a sexual thrill from violating a women’s space that way.

Personally, I don’t especially care as long as they’re discreet about it, and once they’ve made the ultimate surgical sacrifice, I don’t care where they go.

What I DO care about and DO think crosses the line is when biological males insist on intruding on women and girls’ dressing rooms, showers, sports and crises centers. Understanding is a two-way street, and at some point people with Gender Dysphoria need to respect the rights and feelings of people besides themselves.

Whether or not the best way to treat the disorder is to act as if the mind trumps biology is NOT “settled science.” Many experts do believe that is the best approach, but many others, equally qualified, do not. Karen Carpenter sincerely, passionately believed she was fat, and that belief ultimately killed her, but I don’t recall anyone arguing the best approach was to encourage her delusion. And regardless, administering puberty blocking drugs or hormones to prepubescent children should be considered a criminal act.

The Democrat party has made the calculation that supporting the most extreme transgender agenda is politically profitable, and they may be correct in that assessment, but that still doesn’t make it right.

Steve Hudson

The Dalles


I must appear as an idiot or at least a fool. What chance would I have in convincing one single man or woman to read “The Scriptures” (the bible) when I bring to their attention the fact that the women are “commanded” not to teach or have any authority over the man? None.

The “commandment” that sisters are to sit still and remain quiet would automatically chase away at least 99.99 percent of the population.

So what am I doing by bringing these socially offensive “commandments” to your attention? Honesty.

The brothers and sisters who meet together in countries around the world and abide by these unpopular rules are not attending church. The body of men and women who take on the responsibility to read and understand all the books, chapters and verses and meet together is not called church.

If you simply want to be “religious,” then church would be for you. This would not be of interest to you. If you want to be told cute amusing stories, then go to a pastor.

If you want to prove to yourself that a Creator exists through these “Books,” then you must test them, prove them, dissect them and question them daily. That is what these “Books” do. They eliminate any doubt that all this has been created.

The man who thinks he may want to entertain this option is under even more demanding commandments than the woman.

The man cannot be a member of any military branch. It’s absurd to think one could be a brother of Yahshua, man of peace and forgiveness, while preparing his mind and body to kill for national security. He cannot be a police officer or a judge or an attorney or politician.

If a person wants both, then off to church they must go, for pastor is too cowardly to defend the socially unacceptable commandments of the Lord.

Male and female pastor strive for worldly paying customer approval rather than the Lord’s approval.

A knowledge and understanding of the truth sets one free from our insane political and social battles that plague us.

Gary Fischer

The Dalles

One hour matters

In the Feb. 24, article entitled “HR schools outline plans for phased-in return to in-person school March 8,” one of the justifications put forth for a school day that will end at 11:45 a.m. reads, “Starting with a schedule ending at 2:10 p.m. would only yield about an hour more education time.” The argument is essentially that lengthening the school day isn’t really worth it, because, by the time you add in staff required breaks and prep time, children would only receive about an hour more education time during this 2 hour and 25 minute extension (see last two paragraphs in the article).

An alternate parental perspective is that an hour a day is a lot! Practicing an instrument, an academic skill, napping, doing a fun activity … whatever it may be … an hour a day of doing anything with a child ... is ... well ... a lot from my perspective. Moreover, for me, the fact that children would only have one hour more of education time lands as a parental “so what” on the receiving end. I believe the district should offer full day, in-person school as an option to our children, no matter whether it’s at the elementary, middle, or high school level, and regardless of the proportion of the day that is “education time” while the children are under district care.

To the article’s general conclusion that “starting out a partial day makes real sense to us as educators,” I offer an alternate perspective, namely, starting out a full in-person day makes real sense to this parent. Heck, under the current staggered reopening plan, the district still has a month planning time to figure out how to make it happen at the high school.

Becca Sanders

Hood River