Dave Hughes

Agape House Executive Director Dave Hughes poses for a portrait at his desk on Oct. 3, 2019. Hughes, who has been with the organization since 2002, is retiring to pursue other ventures.

A tip of the hat to Dave and Jodene Hughes, who are leaving Eastern Oregon Mission after 17 years serving Hermiston and surrounding communities through the Agape House and Martha’s House.

During that time they have helped thousands of struggling individuals and families through emergency food boxes, shelter, firewood, showers, name-your-price parking lot sales of clothing and household goods, the backpack program that sends food home with hungry schoolchildren on the weekends and other services.

“I’d say he is the most compassionate man I’ve ever met. He sees a need and he wants to fix it,” said Doug Alvarez, who has volunteered with Agape House for the last decade.

Remarkably, Dave did not draw a salary for much of his tenure as director of the Agape House, preferring to free up that money to go directly toward services for the Agape House’s clients.

We wish Dave and Jodene the best of luck in their new endeavors in Arizona, and we wish Eastern Oregon Mission luck in finding someone who can take the Agape House and Martha’s House to new heights as Hermiston grows.

A tip of the hat to the city of Pendleton for recognizing the need to consider setting up a city-sanctioned homeless camp.

At one point about two weeks ago, the Pendleton Police Department identified 22 active or abandoned homeless camps along the Umatilla River.

City Manager Robb Corbett said staff is looking at three city-owned properties: one of the plots on Southwest Byers Avenue west of the Round-Up Grounds, a property near Airport Park, and a piece of industrial land near the Blue Mountain Community College baseball field.

Mayor John Turner said he anticipated the homeless camp would have some basic amenities like port-a-potties, a dumpster and a water trailer.

The council agreed that the camp just couldn’t be a city initiative, and that it needed to involve other public agencies and organizations that were involved in solving homelessness.

Turner suggested that there wasn’t a quick fix and we agree. There are no easy answers to the homelessness issue in Pendleton and Umatilla County, and no one size fits all solutions. But Pendleton is taking steps to find an answer and, for that, they deserve credit.

A kick in the pants to the city of Lexington for letting disagreements between the mayor, council and staff continue to affect the city’s ability to get things done.

The turmoil led to the resignation of Marcia Kemp, the city’s mayor, less than two weeks before an Oct. 22 recall election against her. Kemp said the council had refused to work with her, had stopped letting her sign checks and she suspected they were discussing city business together outside of council chambers to circumvent her. She said she had come to the conclusion that wouldn’t change even if she survived the recall effort.

It is sad that all parties could not work together to find a common goal. There are no winners, only losers in this case. The real losers, of course, are the good residents of Lexington. Their city government is dysfunctional at the moment. It will require residents to take an active role to demand cooperation and accountability from their elected officials.

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