News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Letters to the Editor - 12/23/2020

Editor’s note:

There will be no letters to the Editor in the forthcoming December 30 “Year in Review” edition. Letters to the Editor will resume in the January 6 edition.

Jim Cornelius

Editor in Chief

To the Editor:

I have had the pleasure of living next to the Peterson Trail for 15 years, and walk those trails with my dogs many times a week. However, I have seen it transition into a haven for homeless camps in the last five years or so.

Currently within a one-mile range of Sisters, there are at least four camps, and two camps are within 20 feet of the trail along Tin Can Alley, and the other just south of the new 5A junction.

The Sisters Trail Alliance has worked hard to develop these trails for the residents of Sisters, hikers as well as bicyclists. Many from out of town use these trails when they visit Sisters. I have tried repeatedly to get the Sisters Forest Service involved in trying to get these people to relocate their camps. I feel the Deschutes Forest is big enough, that we do not need to trash our trail systems. Nor should we risk the safety of the young women that love to run on these trails.

As a women, I don’t think you ever get over the nervousness you get when encountering a man while you are alone in the woods.

While I have volunteered with the Shepherd’s House in Bend and interacted with many homeless, I have come to know that, while for the most part some of them are ordinary people going through a hard time, there are others I did not feel comfortable with even in a controlled environment.

I urge you to contact the Sisters Forest Service 541-549-7700 if this concerns you also.

Michelle Baldessari

To the Editor:

I want to talk about false liberty.

False liberty is when a person thinks that their individual rights take precedent over the rights of everybody else. An example might be smoking cigarettes. Some people thought that they had a right to smoke anywhere they want. It turned out that the facts were that second-hand smoke turned out to be just as dangerous as direct smoke. Did smokers realize that it wasn’t fair to endanger the server at the bar or the other passengers on the plane with their exhalations and hold off on their habit until they could smoke somewhere better? Some did, but many very vocal and persistent people would refuse claiming that their rights were being infringed on.

We’ve all seen those people.

The same thing was true about seat belts. Some people felt that it was their right to get their head stuffed into the windshield leaving a mess for somebody else to clean up. The same thing was true for wearing motorcycle helmets. Was the right to have the wind blowing through your hair more important then the rights of the emergency responders to not have to clean up your brains off the highway and for your children to not have a daddy anymore? You could say the same thing about guns but I’m not talking about guns today.

I’m talking about masks.

I promise you that nobody likes dealing with wearing a mask. Some of us, however, understand that the facts say that wearing one lowers the case rate and deaths considerably. That should be good enough for everyone. Instead the mask wearers are called “sheep.” Don’t forget that sheep are the ones that follow their leader off the cliff, not the ones who take the safe route.

Your right to not wear a (God knows) annoying mask is not more important than everybody else’s right to health. That’s a fact. If all the folks who don’t wear masks just hung out together and never went out in public then I think we’d see Darwinism at it’s finest. But those of us that are wearing masks are trying to keep everybody else safe because that’s what human beings do for each other. The greatest strength of our species and the reason that we dominate on this planet is the fact that we cooperate, otherwise we would still be looking fearfully out of a cave somewhere watching some other species building their first pyramids.

Take care of each other, people.

Bruce Campbell

To the Editor:

This is in response to the Letters to the Editor on December 16 from JK Wells. Although this missive was chock full of lies and conspiracy theory rhetoric (what if this, what if that), I want to focus on the reference involving Johns Hopkins that “U.S. deaths, from all causes, is on track to be average for 2020.” The article they reference was published by the John Hopkins student newspaper on November 22 and was not endorsed by the University or Medical Center. In fact, when Johns Hopkins discovered it, they forced the student newspaper to retract the article on November 26 and apologize for spreading misinformation.

They admitted that there has been “almost 300,000 excess deaths due to COVID-19,” compared to previous years.

I want to make two points. First, people who spread these lies and conspiracy theories have no common sense. Obviously, any serious person would realize that there is no way you could have zero excess deaths while the pandemic is ravaging our country and the world. Unless, of course, you believe the pandemic is a hoax and then I submit you have much larger problems than misrepresenting a source such as John Hopkins.

Second, I believe The Nugget editorial staff has an obligation to check references involving such a prestigious institution as Johns Hopkins University. The “zero excess deaths” reference shocked me so much that I spent 45 seconds to discover that they had quickly published a retraction and apologized. You certainly could have verified that information before publishing it.

You cannot hide behind your belief that “letters to the editor are the opinions of the writer” as stated by the editor in chief in response to another letter in the same Nugget. This reference to Johns Hopkins is not an opinion and is from a source that could be easily verified, which is the bedrock of news-reporting, fact-checking responsibilities.

Jay Juhrend

To the Editor:

It no longer suffices that the education system from university to kindergarten is the domain of the anti-American left and the mainstream media is the propaganda arm of the government party.

It now comes down to the proposed censoring of conversation in our local community. We should now be required to embrace leftist orthodoxy or be brought to heel.

Mr. Mackey, myself, and millions of like-minded Americans should be relegated to a re-education gulag.

Larry Benson

To the Editor:

Well, it’s post-election time here in America, and our divisions are more acute than ever.

I’m an American, believe in democracy and the Constitution. So my question to everyone is: Are you an American? If you answered yes, then now you must accept that Joe Biden is the next president, and Donald Trump lost his bid for a second term. We don’t have to like it, but we have to accept it if we call ourselves Americans.

This country is of the people, by the people, for the people. And the people have spoken. True, more than 74 million voted for President Trump, but more than 81 million voted for Joe Biden, so President Trump lost the popular vote. True, President Trump got 232 electoral votes, but Joe Biden got 306 electoral votes, so President Trump lost the electoral vote.

Being a country of laws, Donald Trump has every right to contest the election results, ask for recounts and take his election fraud cases to court. He asked for recounts, all of which made little difference to the outcomes. He filed more than 50 lawsuits across the country; Texas filed a suit that went to the Supreme Court; all were lost or thrown out of court for lack of evidence or precedent.

Accusations of conspiracy are not evidence. Without evidence, there is no legal case.

Attorney General Bill Barr, a loyal Trump ally, said the Department of Justice found no evidence of election fraud. Also, Mitch McConnell recognized Biden as president-elect.

So I ask people to step back and objectively look at the facts. If you still believe Donald Trump really won the election, despite overwhelming factual evidence against it, then there is an equal chance he lost. The more plausible answer is, Joe Biden won the election.

We are not living in a Jason Bourne movie with some evil nationwide conspiracy encompassing thousands of people and government and judicial employees.

Make no mistake: Donald Trump’s continued efforts to overturn the election results based on allegations of election fraud, despite overwhelming facts against it, is undoubtedly an authoritarian attack on democracy and the Constitution. By definition and action, he is currently trying to steal the election away from the people by enlisting political allies to challenge the certified electoral vote in Congress January 6.

In America, the people grant our leaders the power to govern; leaders are not permitted to take power. So I ask again: Are you an American, or not? If you are, let’s be united, move forward and fix things that need to be fixed by participating in our democracy, intelligently voting, and running for office.

If you are not, then I ask you: What do you call yourself?

Christ Cusimano

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading yet another of Jim Anderson’s delightful articles about local natural history, this one about carrion beetles (December 16, “The clean-up crew”). The restless taxonomist in me, however, feels obliged to clarify that carrion, dermestid, and buffalo beetles each represent very distinct families. Carrion (a.k.a. burying) beetles, like the one in Kris Kristovich’s wonderful photo, comprise a relatively small family (Silphidae) of around 200 species, many of which, as adults, bury themselves along with their food to feed on while raising their young; while carrion is on their menu, so is dung, fungi, and other organic matter.

To my knowledge, however, carrion beetles are not used to clean skulls or skeletons for taxidermy or museum specimen preparation. “Buffalo beetles” is a name used for several species in the family Tenebrionidae (darkling beetles) sold in the pet trade, where they are also referred to as lesser mealworm, litter, or black cleaner beetles (among other names).

In stark contrast to Silphidae, there are over 20,000 species of tenebrionids (triple the number of known mammal species!), but like silphids, they do feed on carrion and a wide range of organic materials. And while they are occasionally used to clean dead flesh from bones, the true workhorses in this regard are dermestid beetles in the family Dermestidae. With somewhere between 500 and 700 (or, in all likelihood, many more) species, dermestids, which go by many common names, including carpet and larder beetles, have become widely used by museums worldwide, where they represent both a boon to specimen preparation and a bane to specimen preservation.

The adults are relatively benign (and, like the terminal adult stage of many insects, exist mainly to procreate), but the larvae are voracious consumers, with smaller developmental stages (instars) able to insert themselves into impossibly tight spaces. Left to their own devices, they eat just about anything organic and can subsist on dust bunnies or even drywall, or priceless artifacts co-housed in museums with the very bones they’re conscripted to clean.

For that reason, dermestid colonies are often maintained in a separate building to prevent infestations. Their sheer ubiquity is hard to exaggerate: most of you, without realizing it, have found the dried, shed larval exoskeletons curled up in the back of a drawer, the dark corner of a pantry, or inside an opened or even unopened box of rice. A bet against me finding one or two in your house is one you’re likely to lose.

But fear not: They’re harmless to the living, and you can take comfort in the fact that you’ve been happily, if unknowingly, eating bits and pieces of them, — along with their feces — for years.

Ladies and gentlemen — the beetles!

Link Olson

To the Editor:

I first met Jim Whitney when he was the resident deputy sheriff in Sisters. Jim was a great police officer and was a positive influence. One of the first things Jim taught me was that “the role of a police officer is to be a positive example, not an exception.”

I am saddened to hear of his passing.

Allan Borland

To the Editor:

The letter of Jeff Mackey of December 9 in The Nugget, in my opinion and the facts I know was 100 percent correct.

Jeff is a Vietnam veteran patriot and well-respected in all of the Sisters Country.

The commentary by Mary Chaffin and letter to the editor by Brian Wilson sound like Marxist socialism, which unknown numbers live in Sisters.

Patriot Jeff Mackey has seen socialism and Marxism first-hand. He fought against it in Vietnam. Sixty percent of Republicans, libertarians, and 15 to 30 percent of Democrats will agree with Jeff Mackey and other patriots.

In my observations, some of the law enforcement branches of government, police, some military commanders, state and federal courts, lawyers, judges and some in the Supreme courts (sic) are pushing the country into Marxist socialism. Most of the Democratic Party, some Republicans and libertarians are pushing hard toward socialism.

How do we stop this as a nation? I would like to hear the opinions and ideas from the citizens of Sisters; we’re open to hear these.

Chet Davis

To the Editor:

Singing the Holiday Blues. The tree is trimmed, carols are streaming through the airwaves and the holiday treats are being baked and nibbled. This year has been like no other and while the Christmas lights are a welcome reminder of “normal,” the feeling still isn’t right.

I just keep hearing Elvis sing “I’ll Have A Blue Christmas Without You,” and I know I’m not alone! In “normal” times the holidays can be a challenge for many people; for people who have lost family and friends, for singles, for folks struggling financially, or — fill in the blank! This year we may get a sense that we are not so alone in our pain because all of us are being impacted, to some degree, by the pandemic. Does that bring us relief? Not really! Some good friends told me that they were experiencing “gratitude fatigue” because for the last nine months they’ve prefaced their complaints with all that they’re grateful for despite the pandemic.

I am always coaching kids and adults, alike, that there aren’t “good” or “bad” feelings but rather that we are simply more comfortable and/or more familiar with some emotions. It is my hope that we can all be real with whatever is coming up for us, that we learn how to talk about it, manage our emotions in healthy ways and then come back to this reality: What we focus on grows, so while this holiday may be filled with many disappointments we ultimately get to choose how to respond. Please choose love and kindness towards yourself and others. It really does matter! Ho ho ho!

Phoenix Ries

To the Editor:

Deschutes County veterans are strongly encouraged to enroll and follow the Veterans Administration COVID-19 updates to include vaccination opportunities. To date the VA Medical System in Oregon is projecting vaccination opportunities around the state will begin this spring.

We have a very high trans-generational veteran population — you can discover the percentage of veterans living in your zip code using this site, The VA is looking to offer vaccinations to the most vulnerable of our veterans, with age the critical factor, as well as co-occurring illnesses or diagnosis.

Our population is a high-risk population due to age, service-connected illnesses and disabilities, and co-occurring conditions that can be exacerbated by the virus. Vaccination is critical to protecting the health of our fraternity of war fighters and their families.

Check in with the VA — get enrolled — and follow the guidelines provided.

“COVID-19 vaccines: Stay informed and help us prepare. We’re working to get COVID-19 vaccines to veterans as quickly and safely as possible based on CDC guidelines and available supply. We need your help to prepare. And we want to keep you informed at every step.

“Sign up (at to help us understand your interest in getting a vaccine. We’ll send you updates on how we’re providing vaccines across the country — and when you can get your vaccine if you want one. We’ll also offer information and answers to your questions along the way.”

The Sisters veteran population, as of 2018 data, is 12 percent of the overall census. Sisters veterans who have not yet signed up and are using MyHealthyVet are encouraged to do so upon enrollment in the VA medical healthcare system. It is an excellent website to manage our appointments, prescriptions, communicate directly with our providers via secure email, and more.

Greg Walker (ret)

To the Editor:

Kudos to the “editorial board” at The Nugget for resisting Brian Wilson’s call for editing (read censoring) opinion pieces. If Mr. Wilson is offended by the opinions of his fellow citizens, he should either counter those opinions with his own, or avoid the free speech section of The Nugget.

To quote Benjamin Franklin: “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

Carey Tosello


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