News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Letters to the Editor 5/10/2023

I am seen

To the Editor:

Regarding “Helping people grieve the loss of an infant,” The Nugget, May 3, page 3:

I do not know the Cowans personally. However, I applaud Alissa and James Cowan for their efforts helping parents of children who die. When my son died at three months in January, 1986, his death was considered a SIDS death. A year or two later, it was determined that he had died from a reaction in his lungs from the pertussis part of the DPT shot he received that day.

Not a day goes by that I do not think about what my son may or may not be doing. There weren’t many support groups in those days, and people were more or less left to cope with the loss of a child on their own. After all, it was a given that parents should not outlive their children. Fortunately, I had good medical insurance, and several sessions with a grief counselor were arranged. At the time I was working in the medical field and really felt a deep-seated guilt about not being able to help my son.

My wife, Joanne, and I had difficulty walking down the baby aisles at stores for a long time, as the baby powder smell would trigger emotions. We had difficulty welcoming new babies into our relatives’ families. We sold our house and moved.

My wife and I joined a group called “Compassionate Friends” after several years, which I think helped the most. That is why I think a group which the Cowans are establishing is so important. There are no words for the loss of a child. If anything, our son has directed Joanne and me to focus on helping children, which has been our choice of careers.

Bill Anttila

Support our children

To the Editor:

I was born and raised in Oregon, and after moving to other states and raising my family there, I now have the honor of calling Sisters my home. Early in 2020, I moved here with my youngest daughter (a middle schooler). I discovered during a town hall meeting how, in the 1970s, the residents of Sisters made a huge commitment to provide their children with excellent educational resources. They were aware of the direct link between community well-being and investments in children.

I was very pleased to learn of that dedication. Children here have access to a public education system that is on par with the top private and public institutions anywhere. My daughter is thriving given the outstanding resources and support she is provided.

We have an opportunity to renew our commitment to our town’s children. Please join me in voting yes on Measure 9-161 in support of Sisters School District 6.

Duke Chadsey

Flawed arguments against gun laws

To the Editor:

While legislators debate House Bill 2005 on gun safety, consider weaknesses in arguments against such legislation:

New laws won’t stop gun violence. Then repeal theft laws because people still steal.

New laws lead to confiscations of all guns. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. American Gun Facts reports there are about 466 million guns in America, most civilian-owned. It’s impossible to involuntarily take so many firearms from so many owners. Gun safety laws don’t disarm responsible owners. For example, under Oregon’s Red Flag Law, if a person is a threat to themselves or others, a family member, household member, or law enforcement officer can seek an emergency court order removing firearms and concealed carry permits. Due process protects the person’s rights.

If guns are removed, attackers use knives or other weapons. Maybe. But imagine being in a crowd. An attacker approaches with a club, modern firearm, and knife. You have a superpower to take away the deadliest weapon. Which one?

We need mental health services, not gun laws. Red-flag processes and mental health screenings before gun purchases are gateway mental health services. If the alternative is services for the general population, then how, at what cost?

We need guns for self-defense. That distracts us from preventing suicides and criminal homicides. The Gun Violence Archive defines defensive gun use as “the reported use of force with a firearm to protect and/or defend one’s self or family. Only verified incidents are reported.” As of May 3rd, GVA verified 14,449 gun violence deaths in 2023: 367 (2.5 percent) involved defensive use; 6,199 (43 percent) were homicides, including defensive use; 8,250 (57 percent) were suicides.

Regardless of flawed arguments against it, we need reasonable and necessary legislation intended to keep firearms from those who shouldn’t have them.

Cliff Brush

Smith for school board

To the Editor:

During the Christmas break of 2006, we were eager to be involved in winter sports. We talked to our friends on the wrestling team and they said, “Go for it,” and told us practice was 10 a.m. the following day.

The next morning, we are standing outside the high school as Jeff Smith approached. We did not know him, and he did not know us. We said, “We want to wrestle.” Jeff didn’t ask if we had experience with wrestling, instead he simply said, “Will you show up for practice and work hard?” We both nodded and we were welcomed onto the wrestling team.

Wrestling for Jeff was a wonderful and educational experience. We got in better shape than ever before, we learned about wrestling, and we were always treated with respect.

What does this have to do with a school board election? Meeting Jeff that winter morning in front of Sisters High School made a lasting impact on our lives and has created a friendship that has lasted for decades. Jeff is a great teacher; every child and adult knows what a great teacher can mean for the trajectory of someone’s life. He taught us that it’s not just about half-nelsons and double leg tackles. It’s about respect. It’s about facing tough challenges. It’s about accepting wins and losses. It’s about working hard to get better.

We urge you to vote for Jeff Smith for the Sisters School Board. He will continue to work hard for the community of Sisters. He cared about us and welcomed us with open arms; we know he will do the same for your children, too.

Dylan MacKenzie & Thomas Arends

Simmons for school board

To the Editor:

I am proud to endorse Jayne Simmons for Sisters School Board, Position No. 4. Jayne is a mom and a grandmother who has the integrity, energy, and intelligence to bring a fresh perspective to our local school board.

I have known Jayne for nine years, as she attends many commissioner meetings and school board meetings. She was on the Sisters Park & Recreation Board when I first began serving on their budget committee. She is responsive as I have witnessed her at her Schoolhouse Produce Market. Jayne definitely works well with others and she cares about the success of our students.

I urge everyone to please vote for Jayne Simmons, Sisters School Board Position No. 4. Your ballots are due May 16.

Patti Adair, Deschutes County Commissioner Position No. 3

To the Editor:

As a longtime resident of Deschutes County, Sisters Schools has always been the flagship K-12 education that parents raved about, and with good reason. But I noticed a slide in overall academic student performance after attending a School Board Zoom meeting in 2022. During that presentation to the Board, I developed an unsettling feeling that “average” was becoming the acceptable performance standard. I was disappointed and uncomfortable with that feeling.

Swing forward to today. I have not heard much in the way of self-examination from the current Sisters School Board candidates. I did not attend the League of Women’s Voters Forum, so I apologize if this platform was addressed.

I did, however, attend the April 28 School Board “debate” in which Jayne was the only attendee. The foundation of all great leadership training is self-examination, i.e. What did I do wrong, what did I do well, and how can I improve? That’s really the report card now, isn’t it? I would like to hear more about achieving academic excellence and elevating all levels of student learning. Pushing the gifted student forward as well as the special needs student upward. How can Sisters schools diversify learning opportunities within budget constraints?

I noticed the chair of the Sisters School Board, David Thorsett, endorsed two current candidates for re-election to the Board. Should a fair-minded board chair be endorsing anyone? What if the new candidates win? Does that make them feel welcome? Term limits are debated in politics as a protection to voters against cronyism and repetitive thought. It may be time for some fresh thinking after 20 years on the Board.

I have known Jayne for 27 years. She has raised two great kids that graduated from Sisters High and currently has grandchildren in our school district. Jayne has been a teacher, stockbroker, an investment banker, and a former successful business owner in Redmond. Jayne is now retired and has the time to “give back” to this great community. Jayne is fair-minded, inclusive, and kind, with a lifetime of knowledge and experience to share. Let’s pursue excellence!

Let’s get some fresh eyes on Sisters schools! New ideas and creative thinking can be a breath of fresh air!

Wayne B. Schmotzer, DVM

To the Editor:

We have known Jayne and her family for over 25 years. We know without a doubt that Jayne Simmons will stand up for each and every family here in Sisters. She is energetic, focused and has a proven track record of genuine sisu. (It’s a Finnish thing! Look it up.) Jayne will always fight for our children’s well-being, and optimal educational enhancement.

Life has enough things to worry about. Sending your children to school shouldn’t be one of them.

Put your trust in Jayne Simmons. You’ll be glad you did!

Wade and Heather Robirts

Sarver for school board

To the Editor:

I want to go on record as endorsing Asa Sarver for the office of Sisters School Board, Position 4.

Asa has shown dedication to the Sisters community by engaging public support and community involvement. I have seen Asa support our community sporting events, involvement for the future of our city parks, and supporting our elementary school by volunteering as a member of the Sisters Parent Teacher Coalition.

Asa is a person who will seek answers and solutions for difficult situations. As a father of three children in our school system, I understand the challenges for growth, staffing, and budgetary constraints our community faces now and in the future. Asa has proven to me that he will address these issues to support our children’s future.

I believe Asa Sarver is the best person to serve in Sisters School Board, Position 4.

Jason Ellison


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