East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, July 26, 2022, Page 4, Image 4

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Hermiston Editor/Senior Reporter
TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2022
Founded October 16, 1875
to water
has been
he message from state and
federal lawmakers to the offi-
cials and residents of Morrow
County seems pretty clear.
You want help for your contaminated
ground water — go get in line. We’ll
get to you eventually. Probably. Maybe.
For months now Morrow County
officials have tested tap water of resi-
dents who use wells in the wake of the
county commission’s declaration of
emergency over high levels of nitrates.
The county is paying for bottled water
while a coalition of local businesses
is forking over money for reverse-os-
mosis filters for homeowners.
Jim Doherty, chair of the Morrow
County Board of Commission-
ers, needs the state to contribute
$4 million to expand testing in the
county, help pay for reverse-osmo-
sis filter systems and dig new wells.
While the state has provided some
help there hasn’t been any money.
State lawmakers told Doherty to wait
for the annual meeting of the Legisla-
ture’s Emergency Board set for Septem-
ber to see about financial help. Even
then there is no guarantee Morrow
County will see cash to help allevi-
ate what is becoming a Flint, Mich-
igan-type of public health disaster.
The contaminated water stems
from the lower Umatilla Basin, which
is used by residents in Umatilla and
Morrow counties, has been contami-
nated throughout the years with high
levels of nitrates derived from farm
fertilizers, animal manure and waste-
water from the Port of Morrow.
In January, the state slapped a $1.3
million fine on the Port of Morrow
for violating its wastewater permit
and allowing tons of excess nitro-
gen onto area farmlands. An investi-
gation by Salem’s Capital Chronicle
found the port had been violating
its permit for nearly two decades.
In June, the DEQ increased the fine
to $2.1 million after the discovery of
additional wastewater violations.
Some food processing and ag
firms connected to the Port of
Morrow are reimbursing the county
for up to 350 water filters at a cost
of $220 each. That’s a bright spot
in an otherwise dismal situation.
What remains troubling is the appar-
ent lack of concern by regional and
federal lawmakers. Until now, no
lawmaker has convened a commu-
nity meeting regarding the contam-
ination issue. So far, no lawmaker
has stepped in to be a leader on
an effort to solve the problem.
That fact should be more than a
little troubling to voters. Voters should
study the actions of their elected repre-
sentatives carefully in this matter.
Essentially, the efforts of our elected
leaders — with the exception of those in
Morrow County — has been abysmal.
That needs to change. Right now.
Making things better
he’s always on the go, sending
texts to friends, putting out notices
on social media for local fund-rais-
ers, gathering folks with similar
interests to help on a project, and gets
support at short notice for something
urgent, or to plan some longer-term
commitment. It’s truly amazing to me.
Since writing my last column, I’ve
seen her in the middle of the Pend-
leton Venn diagram pulling people I
know from several different groups
together: someone from church, some-
one else from a group I knit with,
other friends from choirs I’ve sung in,
and people recognizable from other
entities, all for good causes. And of
course, there are always many individ-
uals I don’t know, whom she counts
in her circle of acquaintances.
I think of her as an influencer in the
best sense possible. Folks say yes to her
because she’s out there in front doing
even more, and her energy is infectious.
She doesn’t seem to accept anyone’s
age as an excuse for not showing up.
Her manner of presenting the task gives
people confidence and enthusiasm to
join in, no matter their demographic.
Having collected enough experi-
ences and commonalities to connect
her with people, no matter where their
working lives take place, she takes
pride in connecting with rural citi-
zens, as well as those in town or beyond
us in the city. She is much younger
in her actions and vigor than what-
ever age shows up in a check of her
identification for a senior discount.
When life starts in a community
of a few hundred souls, where social
opportunities exist only at school with
less than a dozen age peers, or at the
church located twenty some miles from
home, you view everyone as a poten-
tial acquaintance, friend, or soulmate.
My friend learned to live the motto
“never knew a stranger” from her father.
But there were constant reminders of
what was not available to her too.
Cultural divides based in faith
loyalties further limited who was
available for friendship and the
events she could attend. She has a
memory of a grandmother teaching
her to make chokecherry jelly, and she
found refuge in her love of horses.
It wasn’t just the size of her home-
town with a biblical name that limited
relational possibilities. Deeply restric-
tive religious beliefs from her church
and parents taught lessons in shun-
ning those outside the tiny fold, espe-
cially members of more dominant
denominations. Her family warned
that her best friend in high school was
someone to avoid because she was
black. That did not square with my
friend’s sense of faith or what possi-
bilities lay beyond the horizon.
College became the outlet that
allowed her to thrive. It was there that
she met her husband. His studies took
them to a large coastal metropolis,
where she came across other perspec-
tives. A further stint in a western
Oregon town continued her educa-
tion in opening herself to others,
no matter their nationality, religion
or ethnicity. The world had opened
up to her and she embraced it.
At one point her life path rerouted
to the deep South. There she realized
how far she had come from the beliefs
about race she had grown up with and
left behind, realizing that her social
habits violated taboos about who she
could talk to. It surprised her how
deeply entrenched those social limita-
tions still were, well past the passage of
laws to protect against discrimination.
It motivated her toward a life of action
to improve her corner of the world.
Seeing possibility in every indi-
vidual, especially for those who face
limitations, whether the aged, or
young people with obstacles in their
lives, she’s eager to help. Her long-
time occupation of several decades
in Pendleton required her to inter-
act with folks in all walks of life, and
that continues now in retirement.
Whether urgent farm chores claim
her time, or community events call on
her abilities, and some group needs
a slew of volunteers to show up, she
knows how to make it all happen.
And it’s a reminder to me of what I
value and am grateful for in small
town life: the ability for each of us to
have an impact in the lives of others.
Regina Braker, of Pendleton, is a
retired educator with journeys through
many places and experiences who enjoys
getting to know people along the way.
2nd Congressional District got a veteran
to represent us who knows what it
means to protect his men and women.
Dr. Joseph Yetter is a military
veteran and a medical doctor who
will represent all of the district,
not just those who gave him big
campaign contributions. Oregon’s
2nd Congressional District is better
with Yetter. So in November remem-
ber vote Joe Yetter for Congress
and send a fighter to Washington.
Barbara Ann Wright
ing, trying to outflank the public and
government agencies, state and federal.
By the time they go into service they
will be archaic, but Idaho Power gets
around 10% of building cost bonus,
most of which will go into stockhold-
ers’ pockets. Nor does Idaho Power
have an adequate fire plan for when
the lines break and start fires, as it did
in Paradise, California, when PG&E
ignited fire. Death toll: 85 people.
Nor has weed control from building
the project been properly addressed.
The power lines cross the Oregon Trail
numerous times, but Idaho Power could
care less about preserving them or the
heritage that goes with them. Their plan
is to place their lines directly in front
of the $16 million Oregon Trail inter-
pretive center outside of Baker City.
The list goes on.
Whit Deschner
Baker City
Oregon’s 2nd
Congressional District
needs a veteran
This letter is directed to every
veteran in the Oregon’s 2nd Congres-
sional District because our wonder-
ful representative, Cliff Bentz, voted
against allowing 56,000 veterans
who are victims of the burn pits in
the Middle East from having access
to Veteran’s Affairs Health Care,
citing it would cost too much.
What Rep. Bentz fails to realize is
that taking care of the men and women
who fought for freedom in a far off land
is part of the cost of war. To not vote
for that bill shows me that Bentz hasn’t
been in the military nor has he talked
to any of you who are suffering from
the after-effects of those burn pits.
I think it’s high time that Oregon’s
Issues linger with proposed
B2H transmission line
For 13 years Idaho Power has been
trying to railroad the 310-mile-long
B2H, Boardman to Hemingway power
lines through Eastern Oregon. No one
wants it, but Idaho Power keeps push-
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial
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211 S.E. Byers Ave., Pendleton, OR 97801