To the Editor:

Should we renew the Local Option tax when enrollment is declining? Yes! Here's why.

When enrollment declines we lose state funding, about $6,500 per student. We eliminated several teaching positions this year, but we cannot reduce fixed - and rising - costs such as heat and transport. Funding levels are pretty flat: since 2001, state funding per student grew by less than one percent per year, adjusted for inflation. Times are tough for school districts as well.

When enrollment declines, Local Option funding per student does rise. Since Local Option revenue is a small share of school funding, however, the decline in enrollment increases the amount of total funding available per student very little - by about one percent. This is nowhere near significant enough to jettison the local option. Moreover, enrollment will not keep declining; the high caliber of the school system and new housing developments will again draw families to Sisters.

Not renewing the Local Option would mean that we would have to cut 9 percent of our operating budget in 2009, which is spent primarily on staff. If cuts in teaching staff were evenly distributed by grade, each class would increase by about five to seven children, not the two or three suggested by a previous letter.

Electives and extra-curricular activities would also be cut. Once these cuts are made, we would lose good staff and programs that would take a long time to replace when economic conditions improve.

By any measure of performance or achievement, Sisters is one of the best school districts in Oregon. Local Option is critical to making this happen. It is not a new tax and we are not raising the tax rate. Your support for kids in this community is what makes this district great. Please continue your investment in quality education - vote YES!

Christine Jones

Sisters School Board Chair

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To the Editor:

Mr. Protas states that the three of the new candidates for the city council are "buying the election" and the insinuation is that since they are in the building industry they are solely out for the special interest of builders and developers.

What these three candidates are, in reality, are practical businessmen wanting to see the City of Sisters run in a financially responsible way and that growth is approached in a conservative and responsible manner. Lon Kellstrom has built eight homes in 15 years in Sisters; Jerry Bogart is a designer and has not built any homes in Sisters but has designed some and designed the new Three Creeks Brewing Co.

I do not think you would call this volume of work builders running amok and creating an undesirable environment here in the city. Sisters is dominated with employers that provide lower-paying service industry type jobs that provide no benefits. For our city to have a prosperous economy we need to attract industry that will provide stable jobs and be an asset.

Sisters currently has an image with the outside business community as a difficult town to do business with. This does not mean we open the floodgates to any kind of development, but that development is done to benefit the community, which these three candidates are for.

The bottom line is that the development within the community is not going to be "ramped up" because of these three candidates. Building volume is dictated by market forces, not by the city council. What we need are people on the council that are knowledgeable about growth, how to deal with the outside developers, and that know enough to ask the right questions and to put the proper restrictions on proposals.

So far that leadership on the city council has been sorely missing.

Grady Brown

s s s

To the Editor:

I am the wife of one of the land owner-developer-builders mentioned in Mr. Protas' letters to the editor last week. I am tired of the degradation of people with ability and vision in the land development occupation as if they were scum!

Since when has it become right to speak so abusively about people we don't even know?

The men that are running for office and the persons supporting them all have been good to great citizens of this community. I'm sure Mr. Protas doesn't realize that these "builders, land owners and developers" have contributed enormously to the interests of the community in many ways.

From creating affordable housing to working on the passing of school bonds and SOAR funding these men work tirelessly to help better the community for all of us. The elementary school certainly wouldn't have had its addition 10 years ago without the direction of these fine men.

We live here, we work here, and we raise our families here. Why does Mr. Protas feel it necessary to belittle people he doesn't even know? Please remember we have freedoms in this country and don't need to hate who we don't understand!

Zoe Willitts

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To the Editor:

Dear Ed Protas (Letters to the Editor, The Nugget, September 17, page 2):

I'm the "not so" little woman behind Curt Kallberg. And yes, we have been in the building business in Sisters for the last 17 years and are proud of it. So you say because of this we don't get a voice? We don't get to make legal donations to try and fund candidates that we think can do a better job?

We for sure must be "up to something" because we are putting our money where our mouth is? I know that every person you mentioned in last weeks article has personally made Sisters a better community for having them in it. Bill Willitts, Chuck Hoyt, Steve Rodgers, Jim Bell, Eric Dolson and my great husband Curt Kallberg are all wonderfully respected in this community. There is not a one of them that has not given of their time, resources or devotion to this town.

So don't insult me by saying we are "buying" an election. We are just tired of the status quo. The only special interest we are trying for is "common sense."

The way you put it, only non-landowners, non-business-owners, and people who are destitute should vote. If you make a living in this town and try to get something done, then we are labeled as being responsible for "big politics."

Well, how about just politics that makes sense, that are fair, and are good for the city. So sorry to offend you in wanting to promote some "new and improved" candidates!

I wholeheartedly support Lon Kellstrom, Jerry Bogart and Pat Thompson.

Like both national political parties are touting... "It's time for change." I think in Sisters, it's time for change here, too!

Sorry this letter sounded so gruff, but today I decided to put on lipstick.

Lori Kallberg

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To the Editor:

In an e-mail last week, Mayor Brad Boyd maligned motives of a group that seeks his removal from office in November's city council election. Of Bill Willitts, Curt Kallberg and myself, he asks, "Did they suddenly become civically minded?"

Bill Willitts formed the Community Action Team of Sisters (CATS), anti-poverty programs (Central Oregon Partnership), and brought affordable housing to Sisters.

Kallberg was central to adding four classrooms onto the elementary school when there was need. Curt said, "Let's just get it done." Curt was there, with crew, day after day, hammer in hand. No charge.

Over 25 years, I donated thousands of hours to schools, committees and commissions, thousands of dollars, trying to make Sisters a better place to live.

How dare Brad Boyd say we "suddenly become civically minded?" Supporters of "Citizens for Sisters" - Gary Frazee, Judy Trego, Steve Rodgers, Chuck Hoyt, Kallberg, Willitts, candidates and others - lived here for decades, given time, money, blood and sweat, provided jobs, taken risks, made Sisters a better place to live.

In a public meeting Brad Boyd said "when we don't like a business in Sisters we burn it down," after arson destroyed Steve Rodgers' restaurant. Brad Boyd doesn't want a couplet, and used urban renewal money for parking and sidewalks to dig up a city street.

Brad Boyd overrode a vote of the people to incorporate property for senior housing. Brad Boyd allowed developers to add 100 housing units in the industrial park on land needed for companies like Breedlove Guitar to provide clean, family wage jobs, while excluding land near schools and grocery stores where citizens wanted homes built.

Brad Boyd irresponsibly advocates giving away garbage collection that pays for city services.

Brad Boyd should not make integrity the issue. There are good reasons for wanting Brad Boyd out of office.

Eric Dolson

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To the Editor:

I think it is time for change in Sister's City Government. Anyone remember the Gary Frazee fiasco! We should never have lost him!

I question the decision-making ability of our current leaders. I think that the people of Sisters need to think long and hard about who you want to represent you.

Sheryn Bagley

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To the Editor:

It would seem wise at this time for the Sister's City Council to consider putting a building moratorium on future development until the current mess is cleared up and only consider those types of projects that are appropriate for retaining the Western theme and are within the ability of current services, ie. traffic considerations, sewer, water, etc.

The one that comes to mind is the Cyrus family's idea for a new destination resort. Sisters needs that like a hole in the head.

One reason folks like to visit Sisters is it's not like Eagle Crest or the surrounding Bend area. It's one of the last bastions of identifiable motifs in Central Oregon.

When people come to Sisters to visit a small Western style community, that's what they, for the most part, get.

Jeff Miller

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To the Editor:

My husband and I wanted to send a big thank you to the firefighters that responded to the fire off Wilt Road on August 17. Their quick response and good work kept that fire from getting larger and possibly endangering our home.

Of course, thanks to all the firefighters who worked on the larger Squaw Back Ridge Fire and the countless others, big and small, that occurred during the lightning storm.

David and I will continue to make donations to the Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District for their Jim Gentry Scholarship Fund and the Fire and Ambulance Association to ensure that they can keep these programs going.

Fire is a reality in this dry and vulnerable area we so love and we are grateful to all the great men and women who protect us from the inevitable fires.

Daniela and David Marshall

Editor's note: See related story on contracts for fire protection for outlying homes outside the district on page 26.

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To the Editor,:

Please take a minute to consider school bus safety.

I realize that in the mornings we are all so busy racing around to work and school. Please look around and notice where kids are and where busses are.

My reason is there are so many children like my own who have to cross a street in the mornings to get on a bus or get to a school. Last year I can't count on all my fingers and toes how many people would see the bus coming to a stop and punch it in order to get ahead of the bus.

I know you are thinking "them dang teen drivers," but no, it was the parents!

My youngest child has almost been hit several times now while crossing the street to get onto the bus. Please just slow down and stop when the lights are flashing. If your child was on the side of the road and there was a bus coming with the lights flashing yellow what would you want a driver to do?

I really don't want to see my child or someone else's child get hit because someone was in too big of a hurry to stop for two minutes. Really, is two minutes worth a life? Just something to think about!

Heidi Lagao

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To the Editor:

It has been three months since ODOT said they would do a speed study on the Barclay and Highway 20 intersection. At the time one of their employees suggested moving the 20 mph zone to the west of the intersection.

The study was supposed to take six weeks. Nothing has happened yet. With school open again, now would be a good time to move those speed limit signs.

Bruce Berryhill

Editor's note: ODOT Region 4 Director James Bryant reports that signs have been ordered and will be installed by the end of October.