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Provide worker housing

As long as housing prices are inflated by lack of available units, the struggle for affordable housing will continue. A viable option to this condition could be workforce housing. Not a new concept, it began with the industrial revolution and has grown internationally.

St. Charles has some 5,000 employees who struggle with market priced rents or housing. The city of Bend employs hundreds of office workers, clerks, inspectors and planners and the Bend-La Pine School District as does the Bend Park & Recreation District also employs hundreds of people, many with families facing the same financial challenges.

The cost of construction would be greatly reduced since each of those listed here have buildable land available. Imagine the pressure that could be relieved in the housing market if the largest employers provided such living alternatives.

An immediate impact model could be realized at Oregon State Cascades and COCC where a portion of on-campus housing could be dedicated to employees.

What are the advantages? Easier access to the workplace, business and services; less travel time; decreased pollution; increased security; easing of anxiety and increased resources for personal and family needs.

By helping to remove some of the pressure for affordable housing, the lives of many of our friends and neighbors could be significantly improved. There are and should be creative answers to today’s challenges.

Don Senecal is a former Bend planning commissioner.

Don't shut down farms

Animal activist Scott Beckstead is shamelessly exploiting the pandemic to lobby to shut down Oregon farms. It is important that legislators listen to science, not opportunistic lobbyists. (“Oregon should not allow mink farms,” Mar. 20)

The coronavirus has found its way into countless other homes and businesses, and fur farms are no different. Farms, like other businesses, have taken extra precautions during the pandemic. Why would we punish small businesses for being the victims of something out of their control? That’s not just bad policy--it’s ridiculous.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, “At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading” the virus that causes COVID-19. Further, “the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low,” according to the agency.

Activists like Beckstead are using the pandemic to dress up the same campaign they’ve been running for decades to shut down the entire fur industry. Keep in mind these animal activists don’t think you should be allowed to eat a cheeseburger any more than they think you should be allowed to buy a fur coat. The Legislature should send their bill to the one place it belongs: The trash can.

Michael Whelan is executive director of the Fur Commission USA.

Thank you for the help

On behalf of the Deschutes County Rural Fire District #2 I wish to express our appreciation to all the fire agencies in the tri-county, Oregon Department of Forestry, US Forest Service, Deschutes County Sheriffs' Office, Red Cross, Oregon State Police, Deschutes County 911 and Taylor NW for the suppression of the two recent wildfires in our district.

We wanted especially to be sure that the crews and support staff that participated in this massive effort know that the residents of our district as well as our elected officials deeply appreciate your response, hard work and professionalism. Without dedicated and highly trained individuals like yourself the outcome of these fires would have been far more catastrophic.

When circumstances are fraught with danger and when physical communications are challenging to maintain there is a ready formula for disaster. Thus, your efforts in working with multiple agencies under hostile and dangerous circumstances and unfamiliar locations are truly exemplary. Each of you have brought credit to yourself, your colleagues and your profession.

You have our deepest gratitude and utmost personal respect.

George Roshak is president of the board of Deschutes County Rural Fire Protection District #2.

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