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Cell phones, history and a new bridge ...

web six editorial
;Don't let them ban cell phones
   There has been lots of discussion lately about banning the use of cellular phones in cars. I hope this doesn't happen in Oregon. We don't need more restrictive laws telling us what we can and cannot do; rather we need the responsible use of the phones. I think the problem would be better dealt with through driver's education and public awareness programs.
   I personally recognize that using the phone and driving don't necessarily mix and try to pull over when I know a call will require more attention. The problem is, I don't want to be (pulled over) simply because I'm using my phone, and if that happens, I'm sure Oregon will make the fines expensive.
   Personally, I think we have a much more serious problems than cell phoneS in cars. What about those of us who eat while driving? How often do you see people juggling a burger in one hand while trying to drive with a soft drink wedged between their legs. It just isn't a safe way to drive. Will the legislature outlaw eating in the car?
   What about pets in the car? I often see dogs draped over the arm of a driver or scampering about the car. It would be impossible for a driver wearing a pet to swerve if a dog ran out in front of the car. If pet owners really want to be safe, they need to have the animal restraints for the pet's protection and the protection of the front seat occupants. Can you imagine what an unrestrained 90-pound dog could do to you if it were sitting in the backseat and you were in a crash, or even had to stop fast? That dog would be a massive projectile that could kill you. Will we outlaw animals in cars and trucks?
   We currently have laws about adults wearing seatbelts and children being restrained in child safety seats, but every day I see adults without belts and children roaming around in moving cars. Law enforcement officials don't have the time to enforce all the existing laws let alone new ones.
   I guess the point I'm trying to make is, before our legislature takes off on some sort of quest to save us from cell phone users, they need to look at all the internal driving hazards and think about educating people not legislating even more.
   History repeats itself
   Researching through old newspapers can be entertaining and educational. It is interesting to see photos of people taken a quarter century ago, not only dressed in the fashion of the 70s, but to realize that many of the issues facing our community then are still with us today.
   A case in point is the articles published in 1973 about a proposal to consolidate the Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests. Apparently public support was not with that plan and it was put aside...only to pop up again 25 years or so later.
   That led us to check out the USDA Forest Service website in search of the history of the two National Forests (www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/index-news.html/ ). Again, very interesting reading.
   The history of the Deschutes National Forest is recounted, going back to prehistoric times. It is interesting to read about events in the 1800s and 1930s. Clicking on the section that relates to the 2000-2009 period, one item was notable: "June 16, 2000 - The Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests will be combined under the leadership of one forest supervisor." The action proposed in 1973 was finally completed, according to the Deschutes N.F. history, 27 years later.
   Once a bureaucracy as large as the US Forest Service does something, it doesn't stop halfway. The proof of that is, after reading the history of the Deschutes NF, one clicks the heading for the Ochoco NF history. Nothing. Apparently, in June, when the two Forests were combined, the Ochoco NF ceased to exist. Even the history of that once proud Forest disappeared.
   Thank God the trees, mountains, meadows and streams didn't.
   Build a new bridge
   The news that the Ochoco River Bridge is cracking, and may have to be restricted, or closed, is very distressing. Can you image what would happen if the thousands of commuters and travelers had to use an alternate route? Plus it's the commercial lifeline for our community. Prineville is very vulnerable.
   We know the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is on top of the situation, but with most of the highway dollars being used on the Bend Parkway there is probably not enough left to do a proper fix on the bridge.
   It's time for ODOT to pay some attention to Crook County road needs for a change and to not simply watch the bridge. It's time for them to either replace it with a proper four-lane bridge, or build a second span next to this one. I'm sure our city and county officials are already pushing for four lanes. Lets hope ODOT is listening.