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11-2 letters to editor

Disappointed in Mabton schools

I read recently the letter from Shannon Pierce regarding Fabian Castilleja. I was disappointed to read that she is a teacher . . . what a disgrace for our teachers to be so uninformed and out of touch with the realities of the Mabton schools.

She is obviously operating under her own or the schools' personal agenda that includes trying to discredit a person that does have the children at the top of the mind.

The way in which Mabton schools are being run is a disgrace to small town America, and the way teachers like her interact is, unfortunately, the standard at Mabton. She obviously wants the status quo to continue—mistreatment of students, lack of values by the teachers, and poor teaching skills and intellect that is pervasive in this teaching community.

The status quo . . . teachers and administration that feed off of the poor parents of the community—it is all about them and not about the kids.

/s/ Cliff Thompson, Dallas, TX

Page Ahead expresses thanks

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone at Sunnyside High School, most specifically to the students.

During last week's homecoming celebration at Sunnyside High, the students participated in a school-wide book drive to benefit Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program. The event was a competition between the classes to see which class could gather the most books.

In the end, the students collected 414 children's books!

Page Ahead will distribute these books to children in need in the Yakima Valley and throughout Washington state.

Page Ahead is a non-profit children's literacy program that advances literacy and strengthens communities by providing brand new books to children at risk of academic failure, encouraging their families to read with them, and developing partnerships between local reading programs and community groups.

Founded in 1990, Page Ahead has placed more than 100,000 new books in the hands of over 35,000 children in Yakima County and more than 1.2 million new books in the hands of over 400,000 children across Washington state.

Thanks to Sunnyside High School, the number of books distributed in the coming year will take that total even higher.

Thank you, Sunnyside High School, for making it possible for Page Ahead to continue to provide kids all over the valley and the state with brand-new books that they can claim as their very own.

If any organization or individual would like to follow the lead of Sunnyside High and host your own book drive to raise books for Page Ahead or would just like to know more about Page Ahead, please contact either Tiffany Dyer or Karla Mancinas at 509-454-5055 or email us at: tdyer@pageahead.org or kmancinas@pageahead.org.

/s/ Tiffany Dyer

Family Involvement VISTA

Smoking bans not a health issue

Initiative 901 will be on the Washington state ballot on Nov. 8. It asks the question "Should smoking be banned in restaurants and bars statewide?" The answer is no!

Smoking bans in restaurants and bars are not a health issue. The proof comes when you compare it to any other legitimate health issue that is regulated in such establishments.

What is regulated is standards of sanitation—unwanted bacteria, insects and rodents, to name a few. These standards are universal and no one will disagree with their need.

Protecting against universally understood risks do not have to be sold like one would sell pots and pans. But that is exactly what is happening. From state to state and city to city, anti-smoking special interest groups are selling an idea that they can't even show, with real world proof, causes what they claim. If passive smoking really kills, where is the documented evidence? Will names, addresses and health records of the dead be made available? Or are the harms based on mathematical theories that are called fact, but do not take into account real world conditions?

So, do smoking bans cause losses in restaurants and bars? One point that proves the answer is yes is lawsuits. Litigation is not something done for fun. It is risky and very expensive. Yet lawsuits have been filed from Washington state to Florida and from Arizona to Massachusetts over mandatory smoking bans. Millions sometimes are invested in these businesses and the owners feel they have no other choice. They feel they should maintain the freedom to do what is best for their own business and private property.

There is a very powerful coalition who wants to expand the powers of public health at the expense of hard working men and women in this nation. This political cancer must be stopped!

Take it outside anti-smokers!

Dave Pickrell, Katy, Texas

President and founder of Smokers Fighting Discrimination, Inc.

Recent grads

back Veloz

It is with great honor and enthusiasm that we offer our support for Karen Veloz for Grandview School Board.

All too often our nation's public schools have failed to hold students to high standards. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to receive a solid educational foundation, poured by the teachers and administrators of Grandview School District.

Grandview High School's recent distinction as one of the "75 most promising schools in the nation" is a reflection of the district's ambition to ensure that graduating seniors are prepared for a future of greatness rather than mediocrity.

Karen's extensive experience, proven leadership and sound community mindedness will serve as a compass, ensuring that Grandview School District's objective to provide one of the best K-12 educational experiences in our nation is not set off course.

In short, Karen is the best choice for Grandview School Director District 2. We believe that a vote for Karen Veloz is a vote to maintain a high quality of education in Grandview School District.

/s/ Eric Rohde, GHS Class of 2001; Andy Horner, GHS Class of 2002; Richard Waddle, GHS Class of 2002; Tracy Cowan, GHS Class of 2003; Meghan Waddle, GHS Class of 2004; Allyson Rohde, GHS Class of 2005.

Support the Grid Kids

I would like to take this opportunity to invite the community to attend the Grid Kid Championship game Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Selah Middle School, beginning at 1 p.m.

The Grandview "A" Team will play in the championship game against Zillah.

Playing in the championship game is one of many goals the boys have been working on since the first week of August. The Grandview "A" team went into the playoffs ranked #1 in the Lower Yakima Valley "A" Division, and now has a record of 10 wins and 0 losses.

The Grandview "B" team also went to playoffs, ranked #3 in their division with a record of 4-2.

We need to give coaches Dan Hall, Chuck Stegeman, Fonzie Lopez, K.C. Zwicker, Tim Johnson and Ramon Torres a big pat on the back for the hours of dedication they continue to give to this program.

The Grandview Grid Kids not only learn the game of football, but they are learning teamwork, respect for the coaches as well as other teammates, physical fitness and nutrition.

Forty-four, hardworking, future Grandview Greyhounds participated in this program this year. They are not only being rewarded for winning games, but will also be rewarded for maintaining a good grade point average while doing so.

Grandview, this is a moment to be proud. The last time the Grandview Grid Kids went to the championship was in 1999 and they won. As our biggest fan, Noel Ling, would say, "Dynamite comes in small packages".

Join us Saturday as we support the Grandview Grid Kids!

/s/ Michelle Denchel, Grandview

Volunteer appreciated

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tom Dolan for dedicating his time to the Sunnyside High School football program.

For those of you who do not know, for the past four years he has volunteered his time to film both home and away games and has spent numerous hours preparing the football field for our students' home games.

As an educator and parent, I can assure you Mr. Dolan has made a positive impact on our students. Thank you, Mr. Dolan, for caring enough about our young adults and giving so much of yourself.

/s/ Cheryl Engel, Sunnyside

Former P&R director clears the air

I am writing this to allow the citizens of Sunnyside to know the truth of what took place during the last year of my employment. I want to thank everyone who supported the department and my position as the director of P & R. Sunnyside will now be the only one of similar sized cities without a qualified parks and recreation director.

When the city manager was hired, May 2004, the department heads were aware that in his previous position he had terminated five department heads. It was apparent what would become reality. At the first staff meeting with the city manager, he stated that he was hired to work with the current staff, and "that a year from now we would all be sitting at the table laughing about his misconception" from his past.

To date, only two of the original department heads are employed with the city. A total of over 85 years of experience with the city has been eliminated.

On Oct. 26, 2004, I met with the city manager and finance director to review the 2005 budget. After my presentation, I was told that everything looked good, and the very next day the city manager informed me that my position would not be part of the 2005 budget. He explained that the elimination of the P&R director position would save the city over $25,000. He stated that this savings would be used to enhance the recreation programs.

This "enhancement" has resulted in closing the pool for two weeks and reducing the use of the community center by one day per week.

During the budget process, I was told by the city manager that, if the city council did not go along with his recommendation to cut the position of P&R director, they would need to find a new city manager.

The total of the salaries for P&R for the 2004 budget is $272,630, and the 2005 is $267,160, a reduction of $5,470.

November 2004 at the last P&R commission meeting that I was still employed, the city manager stated how the elimination of a position would work. City manager stated that the city would advertise for a new position, recreation coordinator, would be responsible for the operations of the recreation department and community center. He stated that through this advertisement a qualified individual with a P&R degree and past experience in the operations of a community center would be hired to replace my position, and that current recreation staff were not qualified for this new position.

This process never took place, and the former recreation assistant was hired to the position.

I was told that the minutes from this meeting are missing and not a part of the records.

Prior to leaving my position, I completed the 2005 budget for the community center, showing how the city could operate the center on a break-even basis. I know that the city will not be able to revenue the funds projected for the community center and the recreation programs with the current staff.

This is apparent with the finance director's mid-year report that the revenues were only $41,000 of the $145,000 projected for the year.

Prior to leaving December 2004, the city manager had stated to two individuals with the news media that he had secured job opportunities for me. Not true.

I was told and witnessed several times the city manager stating that all the department heads were "at-will employees" and they could be terminated for any reason. City manager stated that he did not approve of my hair style and that I wore "pimp shoes".

I was also told that the severance package was confidential information and would not be public information.

I also find it odd that the city manager received a wage increase of over $20,000, due to the fact that the city did not have the funds to keep my position.

City manager came to my office and stated he had finalized the purchase of the feed lot and that the finance director would need to find the funds to cover the purchase. This was the first time that the finance director knew what the city would pay to become the owners of the feed lot because he was not in the discussions for this purchase.

It will become apparent in the near future, regarding the situation leading up to the termination of the finance director, that he was not involved in the initial stages of the privatization plan.

I have worked over 26 years as a P&R director with three different municipalities, and eight different city managers, and did not experience anything comparable to the last eight months of my career with the City of Sunnyside.

Again, I write this letter to make sure the public is aware of what took place during the last eight months of my position.

Finally, I would like to state to the city manager something that he has heard from another former city employee: "Get a heart".

/s/ Tom Byers, Kennewick

Parks and Recreation director for the City of Sunnyside 1987 to 2004.

Senator Murray opposes I-330

This fall you're being asked to vote on a misleading initiative. It's called Initiative 330 and it's the wrong solution for Washington.

I'm proud to be a part of a strong coalition of fellow citizens and organizations across Washington state who have joined together to say No on I-330.

Governor Christine Gregoire, Senator Maria Cantwell, Congressman Jay Inslee and Mayor Greg Nickels agree that I-330 is the wrong solution for Washington state. I hope you will stand with us and vote No on I-330.

I-330 may sound good on the surface, but it's vital that you read the details. The initiative has 20 pages of fine print that benefits the special interests at the expense of the people of Washington.

So today, I am asking you to join AARP, the Washington State Labor Council, the Washington State Chapter of NOW, the Washington State League of Women Voters, the grassroots campaign to defeat I-330 this November.

To get more information on I-330 and how it could affect you, go to http://www.TruthInTheFinePrint.org.

/s/ Senator Patty Murray

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