Four days of FFA in Hermiston conclude Monday

The new class of leadership for the Oregon FFA lower the gavel and officially close the 2012 Oregon FFA State Convention on Monday in Hermiston.

A tip of the hat to the FFA funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Barreto (R-Cove), that would add $1.4 million to pay for competitions, training and leadership courses and conventions. There’s also $600,000 from the Oregon Department of Education to support ag and science teachers.

For our money, there’s no better investment than FFA. Districts both rural and urban should have thriving programs, preparing students for a world that needs to be fed, day after day and year after year.

We’ve seen the bounty of the harvest in Eastern Oregon, with programs that grow some of the finest young leaders in our schools. And while fundraising can be a helpful exercise, students and teachers shouldn’t be reliant on the kindness of strangers to make well-earned trips to conventions and competitions.

Each school district will continue to make decisions on how to fund its own programs, including stipends for advisors. But adding state assistance will make sure FFA can thrive in districts large and small.

The world needs more leaders, and rural Oregon needs more trained experts in agriculture. This bill — House Bill 2444 — is a way to get both.

A kick in the pants and a “get a move on” to the Western Fire Chiefs Association, tasked with conducting a search to find the next Pendleton fire chief.

Paul Berardi, the interim fire chief, has been in Pendleton since October. The position hasn’t been filled full time since April. A new fire station is under construction. The department is in need of some stability.

To that end, Pendleton is taking the advice of the fire chiefs association, who suggested keeping Berardi as interim during a larger search. It also planned to start a job listing in January.

We’d like to see that process begin so the department can move into its next phase with a permanent leader.

A tip of the hat to Umatilla County for setting the standard with its September hazardous waste cleanup event. And a special tip to Gina Miller, who planned and pulled off the project.

Twelve tons of potentially harmful material is quite a haul, and we’re glad to have it out of our garages and sheds.

Because of the drop-off event’s success, other state agencies are looking to replicate it. It’s an area where the county can be a proud leader.

A kick in the pants to the risky drivers who insist that posted speed limits are good for all weather conditions, believe the open road is a good place for a text conversation and think they’re invincible.

We’ve learned sadly, again and again, it’s not true. And as another winter storm bears down on Eastern Oregon, we ask that you prepare for travel with caution.

There’s a false notion that one becomes a “good driver” based on years of experience behind the wheel. The opposite is often true — routine breeds complacency, and a person can forget they’re piloting several tons of metal and glass at breakneck speeds.

This is intensified in bad weather, and small bad habits are multiplied. The consequences can be deadly for you and others.

If you’re a good driver, prove it by acknowledging your bad habits and putting them aside, especially when roads are treacherous.

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