Letters to the Editor 4/19/2023


Last updated 4/18/2023 at 11:34am

Wolves in Sisters Country

To the Editor:

I would like to add some commentary to the Are more wolves roaming Sisters? article in the April 5 edition of The Nugget. I can say 100 percent without a doubt that there is a large pack of wolves roaming between Sisters and Redmond and they are following the migration path of the elk that roam the same area.

I am an avid dirt bike rider and ride the trails out at Cline Butte Recreation Area that stretches from Fryrear Road to Eagle Crest as well as across the 126 at Buckhorn, which stretches out in the direction of Lower Bridge and Holmes roads, mentioned in your article.

I have personally come upon large sections of wolf tracks, which cannot be mistaken for “large dog” tracks. By my count from the tracks there were 12-14 wolves traveling in a pack, and they do not follow paths like dogs do, which you can often see on the trails matched with their owners’ prints. These prints are very large, and they are in a pack, and they do not follow the trail system. They range across the land, and they are directly following the herd of elk prints that I have seen going in the same directions.

I have been telling people for about six months that there is wolf activity in Cline Butte, and it has been met with a lot of skepticism. I found an elk kill with wolf fur up on the Trail 20 plateau close to the Fryrear Transfer Station, as well as numerous wolf track sets over the last six months.

That being said, the majority of these sightings have been in the summer months, and I have not seen any signs in the last three months.

Patrick Tougas

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No to growth

To the Editor,

I’ve been meaning to voice my opinion regarding growth in Sisters for a few years. I haven’t, in part because I do not live within the town. I, nonetheless feel that I have a stake in its future. So do my neighbors in the surrounding area, who contribute to the community we refer to as “Sisters Country.” But recent letters and news articles indicate a real blind spot we seem to have all bought in to to varying degrees. We are subjected to the constant, consistent, and ubiquitous drumbeat of growth is good, inevitable, unavoidable, and that we must embrace, prepare for, accommodate, celebrate, resign ourselves to, or tolerate it. Perhaps, but in my view this is a very flawed approach, which both limits our thinking on the subject and rules out the goal many of us seek.

Typical were recent comments in The Nugget regarding the expansion of the Space Age gas station that when people “realize the additional jobs we’ll add, they’ll be persuaded” (to welcome it). Folks, this is what growth looks like. Those who need jobs may rightfully be persuaded, but those of us who have jobs or are retired won’t be. And we are many. Harsh, I know, but you only go around once and we’ve all chosen to do it here.

The same issue contained this statement from a letter to the editor: “It is quite obvious that we cannot avoid growth.” Really? Obvious to whom? Why not? The later part of the writer’s comment may well be correct. The first part, however, represents only an opinion. My point is that we should not begin the discussion with, “Well, we can’t just ... (fill in the blank).” There are towns which do not grow, towns like ours which are not islands and are not surrounded by impenetrable cliffs, towns where people have chosen not to allow growth and are very satisfied living there.

It is not obvious to me that we cannot avoid growth. It is increasingly apparent that there are those among us who will not even attempt to limit growth. We can make Sisters better without making it bigger! Until we get the foxes out of the hen house regarding growth, Sisters will continue its inexorable march toward becoming suburban Bend. Now is the time. Sisters Country, you, too, have a stake in this. Engage!

Ross Flavel

Fryrear Ranch, Sisters Country

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Support Black Butte School bond

To the Editor:

On February 1, the Black Butte School District Board placed a school bond on the May 2023 ballot. The Jefferson County Education Service District’s Board of Directors would like to ask you to vote YES on the Black Butte School bond measure.

Black Butte School District is approved to receive a $2 million grant from the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) Program if the proposed bond measure passes in May. This is an important opportunity to support this bond to build brighter futures for our children with a safe, functional building to learn in.

This proposed bond would help to fund a roof replacement, upgrade the HVAC system, remove asbestos, replace flooring, create a secure entry to better control access, upgrade door locks/hardware, install energy-efficient windows, update restrooms, improve and expand instructional space, provide space for confidential meetings, site improvements, furnishings, and equipment.

You may be surprised to learn that voters have not had the opportunity to vote on capital construction bonds for Black Butte School since 1963. The age and condition of the Black Butte School facilities necessitate far more than general maintenance. We stand behind the Black Butte School, the School Board, community members, and dedicated staff in support for the kids, to provide them with an age-appropriate, safe, secure, and healthy learning environment – we ask that you please stand with us!

We know that a strong school system and infrastructure benefits the students, families, neighborhoods, and economic vitality of the entire community. We humbly ask you to vote YES for the Black Butte School bond in the May 16, 2023 elections.

Jefferson County ESD Board of Directors

Chair Joan Starkel; Vice-Chair, Daniel Petke, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Dani Cowdrey, Barbara Ibrahim, Raylene Thomas

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Smith and Sarver for school board

To the Editor:

As a former school board member, I know how important experience is to be a good board member. I urge you to vote for the two candidates with experience: Jeff Smith and Asa Sarver.

Don Hedrick

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Vote for Bilderback

To the Editor:

Karissa Bilderback, a Sisters Outlaw alumni, wants to give back to her community by being elected to the [Sisters] School Board this May. As a retired teacher serving over thirty years with the Sisters School District, I strongly support her candidacy. She is highly qualified to make decisions that will affect the educational outcome of our children now and into the future.

Karissa, with a master’s degree in education, has been a classroom and substitute teacher for over twelve years. Currently, she is a parent volunteer in two of her children’s classrooms. She is also an active member of both SPTC and the local option committees. Her experiences have enabled her to see things from multiple perspectives and to understand the different learning needs of children.

Some topics of importance to Karissa that I agree with include: setting high expectations and holding students accountable for their behavior; ensuring school safety; supporting the well-rounded student by providing innovative career pathways; and teaching students how to think for themselves. She believes that the best decisions are made when a diverse set of ideas are heard and discussed and decisions are made keeping the well-being of our children in mind. Karissa hopes to work with other members of the Board to approach each issue with facts, an eye on best educational practices, and a commitment to seeking the best results for our children.

I’m convinced that Karissa is the strongest candidate for School Board Position No. 3. She’s young and energetic. She has children in our schools, is active in our schools, and has a strong desire to see the children of our community excel. Please vote for Karissa Bilderback for School Board Position No. 3.

Norma Pledger

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Support SPRD levy

To the Editor:

The Sisters Country Pickleball Club strongly supports the Sisters Park & Recreation District’s (SPRD) local option tax levy, Measure 9-160. Please join us in voting yes on the measure. The local option levy is a renewal of a levy passed in 2018 in the amount of 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The permanent tax rate (22 cents per $1,000) combined with the local option levy rate is among the lowest in Central Oregon. This is a small price to pay for the outstanding services SPRD provides our community.

Sisters Country is a beautiful area for sports-oriented residents and visitors alike. And yet, every town in Deschutes County has permanent public pickleball facilities, except Sisters. In 2019, the Sisters Country Pickleball Club organized as a committee of SPRD to promote public pickleball courts. To date, the club boasts over 225 members and continues to grow and advocate for the sport.

The club led the effort to create two temporary pickleball courts at the Locust Street tennis courts. Those courts will be demolished in 2024 to make way for the much-needed traffic roundabout. To assure that public pickleball courts are available in Sisters, we plan to partner with SPRD and other public and private organizations to develop new courts soon.

Our club strongly supports SPRD’s leadership role in providing recreation services to all age groups in the community. Please join us in voting yes on Measure 9-160.

Sisters Country Pickleball Club Leadership Team

Bruce Carpenter, Karen Stuve, Lynn Kramer, Karen Freeman, Rod Stuve, Rose Blackburn

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Support Measure 9-160

To the Editor:

As a father of a 7-year-old, an involved community member, and a small business owner here in Sisters, I am writing to urge you to support Measure 9-160, the local option tax levy designed to maintain and enhance services provided by the Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD).

Since the day we moved to Sisters, we have taken advantage of the wonderful programs and activities that SPRD has offered to the community. In fact, our son’s first friends were made at an SPRD summer camp, and we have made many more since, through their stellar community offerings. From that first day, now our entire family has taken advantage of many SPRD programs and activities; from adult softball to the kids soccer league, and from Lego camps, to riding the bike park, to the soccer camps.

The renewal option of this existing levy is much needed for this district to continue offering the children and adults of Sisters these quality programs like their preschool, senior programs, free summer playground programs, wellness classes, and the many other outdoor activities, classes, and sporting tournaments that they offer. SPRD already does so much with so little, and as a parent, coach, and member of the Sisters Country community, I do not want to see any cutbacks in services that we have grown to love and cherish.

Please join myself and my family in voting YES on Measure 9-160 to ensure quality recreation, community services, and events for all of Sisters Country into the future.

Eli Madrone

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Renew local option

To the Editor:

Our local schools are a focus of community pride and community involvement in Sisters. Through various organizations and countless examples of personal initiative, citizen volunteers step up every day in support our teachers and staff in countless ways: enriching classes from science to civics, assisting struggling math learners and beginning readers, mentoring students, helping coach and cheer on our sports teams, sponsoring arts programs, guiding students on backcountry experiences, kickstarting innovative new programs of study, serving on committees and boards....

The list is endless, and the results are seen in consistently strong outcomes for our students.

For 24 continuous years, the most critical form of community support — one which involves all of us — is the local option. First approved by Sisters voters in 1999 and renewed by vote five times since, the local option today provides approximately 10 percent of our schools’ annual operating budget. That dollar amount is roughly equivalent to the expense required to support 14 of the teachers who work with our students daily.

The large majority of ours and any school district’s operating budget is personnel-related expenses, with the rest dominated by non discretionary expenses. Losing 10 percent of our budget through nonrenewal of the local option would necessitate reductions in teaching staff, resulting in larger classroom sizes, reductions in programs of learning and student support services.

The good news is that we can avoid the stark prospect of deep cuts in staff and services without raising anyone’s tax rates. Voting YES on Measure 9-161 on your May ballot simply renews the local option at its present rate, the same rate at which we have supported our schools for years, a rate that is lower than school-related taxes in either Bend or Redmond.

As a parent, volunteer, and former teacher, I have seen firsthand the impact of the local option in the Sisters schools. My own two children attended all three of our local schools through graduation, benefitting from the unique educational programs and strong mentor relationships which could only exist in our tight-knit, small-community setting. Today’s students deserve the same opportunities.

I continue to support the local option because it is an essential component of our schools’ success, and in turn an essential piece of who we are as a community. Please look for the arrival of your May ballot and join me in voting YES on Measure 9-161. See https://yesforsistersschools.com for more information.

Rob Corrigan

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Voting YES on measure 9-161

To the Editor:

My husband and I have had the good fortune to see our daughter and son educated in all phases of the Sisters School District, beginning with elementary school and graduating from high school in 2000 and 2005 respectively.

When my children were of school age, I initially worked with the Talented and Gifted program at the elementary school before teaching German, technology, and coaching swimming until my retirement about 10 years ago.

Prior to 1992, Sisters School District did not have its own high school. Then, after years of bussing high schoolers to Redmond, Sisters School District opened its own 8-12 building with dedicated administrators and staff, with the mission and vision of becoming the best small high school in the country. Driven by this audacious undertaking, the dedication of the community, and emphasis on technology, academics, art, music, and sports, as well as small class sizes, created a model that was envied by many.

Not to be outdone, the elementary and middle schools developed their own path toward excellence with low student-to-teacher ratios, high academic standards, and support for each child. Our daughter and son were the direct beneficiaries of this education, but we, as a family and community, have also benefited greatly from the strong relationships that the Sisters School District helps build.

In 2000, after an incredible eight years of progress and improvement, it became apparent that continuing to grow and foster these successful models necessitated the District seeking a local option levy to support the excellent programs, dedicated staff, and driven students that were making such strident gains. That first measure passed. And so has every subsequent measure that was necessary to properly fund and care for our district. Because we, the voters, knew it was our job to protect this unique and special resource.

Much has changed since that first request to pass a local option levy: the community has grown to about four times its size; housing is a challenge for many; and the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional burdens. But the one constant is our personal and the community’s collective desire to offer the best educational opportunities to our children. Outlaws that graduated around the time of the first local option — our daughter included — are raising their children in this community and are working hard to maintain and enhance what the school district has developed.

Next month, residents will again be asked to renew the local option. This is not a new tax. Voting YES on measure 9-161 simply continues the hard work we have all put in over the past decades by providing about 10 percent of the District’s annual operating budget. This funding is vital to keep staffing at its present levels, maintain small class sizes, offer one-of-a-kind electives such as IEE, Americana, and flight science, and keep every student in the District emotionally connected.

Please vote YES on Local Option Levy 9-161.

Isolde Hedemark

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A YES vote on Measure 9-161

To the Editor:

We have been given the greatest ever — the continued support of our children and the teachers who inspire them, teach them, and give them the tools of a better life. A YES vote (on Measure 9-161) continues the quality educational programs that our kids and grandkids deserve. Please join me and vote yes on the renewal of the Sisters schools local option levy as the future of our children are in your hands,

Dennis Geltner

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Vote YES on Measure 9-161.

To the Editor:

As a child growing up in Bend I never imagined that I would someday call Sisters home. Although I had family and friends who lived in Sisters, I did not visit that often. I always felt like the town was a faraway Western fairy tale that was a fun place to hang out for the day, but could not comprehend what it would be like to live in such a small community. Having now lived in Sisters for over seven years, I cannot imagine living anywhere else.

Sisters is a place where citizens support each other and school programs that set our community apart from the rest. As a mother, I am grateful for the incredible education my two sons are receiving in our school district. In fact, the school system was a driving factor that led my husband and me to choose Sisters as our home. The incredible teachers, small class sizes, and variety of unique and valuable class electives and activities really set Sisters apart from any other education system in Central Oregon. My children have opportunities to learn and explore practical knowledge and skills to help them be successful in life, all because our community has prioritized the needs of our education system.

To continue supporting our teachers and the future of our students, I am asking members of our community to vote YES on Ballot Measure 9-161. Renewing the Sisters Local Option Levy for school operations ensures that our schools receive the funding they need to operate at the level of excellence our students and teachers deserve. A YES vote simply renews the existing Sisters Local Option Levy that has been in place since 2000, allowing our community to invest in the future of our education system without imposing any new taxes.

Join me in voting YES on Ballot Measure 9-161 to help maintain our outstanding schools and continue funding approximately 16 teaching positions and unique opportunities like IEE, woodworking, culinary, aviation, and so much more!

Sara Brang

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The taxpayer’s burden

To the Editor:

We are confronted by fire zones, deer zones, and constantly rising property taxes. Maybe the landed class will be relegated to living in tents and under bridges while the unmanaged forests burn, the cougar eat the deer, and illegal aliens live on the taxpayers’ dime in hotels with room service.

Larry Benson

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Things to be grateful for

To the Editor:

A big thank-you to Sue Stafford and The Nugget (April 12) for reporting the good things that are happening in Sisters. Sue has covered the growth of Age Friendly Sisters Country (AFSC) and STARS since the beginning and always shares their accomplishments and challenges in a thoughtful and balanced way. As an AFSC board member and STARS driver myself, I can vouch for the dedication and hard work of our volunteers. It’s rewarding service that has positively impacted the lives of our Sisters Country neighbors and (new) friends.

Although contentious news often makes the front page (and the Letters to the Editor), let’s all think carefully about how much we have to be grateful for. We have people in City Hall who work hard every day, doing the best they can. We have a fantastic local newspaper with dedicated staff.

We have people at SPRD that provide countless hours of fun, learning and supervised care for our kids, and activities and recreational opportunities for young folks and the young at heart.

Our library and local bookstore are the best — and getting better! The School District provides some of the finest education in the region and is preparing for future success with its building expansion. And our artists, musicians, restaurateurs, and small businesses create a cultural vibe that is beyond compare.

The list goes on and on: first responders, volunteers, health professionals, retirees, grocers, bakers, construction workers, faith-based communities...too many to list, but all important and contributing to the success of our town.

We live in a beautiful place and I’m grateful to be part of it.

Dixie Eckford


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