Letters to the Editor 4/17/2024


Last updated 4/16/2024 at 9:31am

Prescribed fire

To the Editor:

Spring is in the air and so is the smoke. Prescribed burning season is upon us and in an effort to get in front of a contentious subject I’d like to voice my support of the efforts of our local resources devoted to protecting our community from wildfire. Smoke in the air is never fun. It makes breathing difficult for many, it ruins our beautiful views, weekend plans, and is unwelcome by all. Mechanical thinning is an option but the budgets our government has left for the agencies charged with fuels mitigation don’t allow for it exclusively.

Working as a helicopter pilot flying wildfire suppression for over a decade, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of prescribed burns and mechanical thinning. These efforts, employed strategically in combination with natural fire breaks, have proven their usefulness time and time again to prevent loss and contain wildfire. When a fire runs into one of these burnt areas it can go from torching entire trees in an unmanaged section of forest to a relatively subdued ground fire that crews can safely attack.

After putting out fires for 100 years our forests are littered with fuels and lacking natural firebreaks. It falls on the backs of minimally paid first responders to restore these firebreaks this time of year and defend our community from the wildfire that comes with living in the wildland urban interface in the summer.

Fighting fires in every state from the Rockies west, I’ve seen a lot of forests and few are as well maintained as ours to prevent wildfire. Smoke from prescribed burning is never welcome, but I know it represents good folks, working hard, to protect our community. I suck it up, pun intended, and rest assured knowing an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A bit of smoke in the air is better than me.

Mike Baumann, Field Operations Supervisor, Precision LLC

Another side on McLeod-Skinner

To the Editor:

After reading Susan Cobb’s glowing endorsement of Jamie McLeod-Skinner in last week’s Nugget, I feel compelled to set the record straight.

Ms. Cobb claims that Rep. Kurt Schrader, upon losing to McLeod-Skinner in the primary election, “asked his voters to support the opposing candidate [in the general election].” This is patently untrue. Schrader refused to endorse McLeod-Skinner, after a nasty campaign, but he never opposed her in the general election.

Ms. Cobb also failed to note in her glowing endorsement that McLeod-Skinner was fired from her position as city manager of Phoenix, Oregon after only four months and left a similar position in Talent, Oregon under, according to press accounts, similar contentious circumstances. Both departures, again, according to press accounts, were spurred by staff discord. This is how Microsoft’s AI-assisted “CoPilot” summarized McLeod-Skinner’s career to date: “In summary, McLeod-Skinner’s management style and workplace behavior clashed with her public persona as a candidate. Her dismissal as city manager in Talent, Oregon, echoes similar complaints from her previous role in Phoenix. These revelations provide insight into the character of someone who could potentially represent Oregon in Congress.”

Jeff Tryens

Teacher questions

To the Editor:

In response to the immediate, and seemingly privileged reply/promotional ad offered to Ms. Munro concerning the allegations against Americana Project’s leading teacher, it seems clear that Sisters Folk Festival (now Sisters Folk Festival Presents or SFFP) should at least investigate the possibility that they may have played a role in this unfortunate and egregious circumstance. Instead, the organization seems to deflect accountability and possibly set it on the shoulders of the Sisters School District alone. While this teacher’s alleged behavior should not be tolerated in any setting, it certainly shouldn’t be seemingly ignored or possibly pushed under the rug for ongoing years to possibly save the ego of its founders or supporters. How likely would it be that the teacher’s behavior was a pattern? Who was it reported to? Who tolerated it? Who protected it? How is this keeping our kids safe? 

If an organization is seemingly quick to claim the fame of positive achievements, yet equally quick to deflect the problems it could potentially help create, how can we trust it with our children in the Sisters School District? Let’s look closer at every outside organization, including SFFP, that has long-lasting collaboration with our schools to make sure student safety truly is priority. All individuals and organizations closely involved with students should be subject to the same standards of behavior that certified teachers are required to follow. When it comes to the safety of our children, if ever wrongdoing by a teacher or leader is reported, the people who have possibly protected or seemingly ignored it must be held accountable as well.  

Kelley Moen

Editor’s reply:

In the April 3 edition of The Nugget, Matt McDonnell submitted a letter to the editor that asked several questions directed to SFF Presents regarding safeguards for children involved in American Project, a Sisters High School class supported by the organization.

Mr. McDonnell chose to ask questions of the organization through a letter to the editor rather than posing them directly to SFF Presents. In the interest of addressing questions on a serious and sensitive topic in a timely fashion, The Nugget provided SFF Presents with an opportunity to answer those questions.

This is a standard, though not frequent, practice in The Nugget’s efforts to provide information to its readers. Perhaps Ms. Moen characterizes it as “privileged” because the editor was a co-founder of Sisters Folk Festival and continues to be listed as a board member emeritus of the organization. There is “seemingly” an accusation there. It would be more honest to make it directly, in which case I would be more than happy to address it.

The Americana Project/Choir Teacher, Rick Johnson, remains on leave while under investigation by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Kudos to Sisters

To the Editor:

This past weekend the Sisters Lions Club hosted the District G Convention in your town. We were so pleased with the reception by your community members who made us feel very welcome. The kind of public relations from those in restaurants, motels, shops, and other businesses speak well for your town.

But you should commend members of the Lions Club as well. They encouraged clubs from throughout the state of Oregon to attend and support your community.

Gerald Hopkins, Past District Governor


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