Cutting back can be a safe moveResidents who have sidewalks not only are expected to maintain them but should maintain the shrubs and trees that grow nearby.

Landscaping plants growing near sidewalks often seem to take a growth spurt this time of year and sprawl onto sidewalks homeowners or renters may not use. Therefore those responsible may not be aware of the encroachment unless they look.

Low-hanging branches on trees near sidewalks also can cause pedestrians and runners to duck as they pass by. If those trees are near a corner, the low-hanging branches may obstruct stop signs or other traffic warnings. That could create a traffic hazard.

So for the safety of pedestrians and motorists alike, residents should inspect their streetscapes and remove any hazards

- Dean Brickey

Community reclaims queer Growing up we were taught to refrain from referring to people using derogatory words. Among those included the word "queer." So, when Frank Roa and Darrell Alston came in recently to talk about the Spirit of Pride award Roa recently received, one of my first comments was, "I thought queer was a derogatory term."

Right on on the award was written, "For excellence in service to the queer community."

Alston explained with all the diversity of individuals, queer encompassed the various communities without having to specifically rattle of a list, which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

"We've tried to reclaim the word," he said. "We don't consider it derogatory anymore."

I don't take issue with that, but if a word that once was considered inappropriate to use is now perfectly acceptable, there needs to be a way to get the word out that the attitude has changed. For instance, Webster's Online (offensive term for an openly homosexual man) and, (slang: disparaging and offensive: a homosexual, especially a male homosexual) haven't been clued in on the change.

When Managing Editor Skip Nichols told me he had received calls questioning our use of the word queer after the article ran, my immediate thought was by putting it in print, maybe people will come to understand that the queer community is taking the word back.

It's the ultimate response to, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

- Tammy Malgesini

Be careful, there's a peacock at largeFew activities are as comically rewarding as listening to a police scanner or reading the daily cop log. It's a rare day here in the Hermiston newsroom when one of the reporters - OK, me - does not laugh out loud and say, "Listen to this..."

Last week or so ago, a man in Morrow County called 9-1-1 because he saw a strange glow on the horizon, kind of like a fire or something. After a brief investigation, an officer determined the glow was the ... daily sunset.

Then there are the common, but still funny, reports of uncontained farm animals - stray sheep on a highway or a cow lumbering around town. Just a few days ago, a distpatcher announced over the radio there was a peacock at large - I forget where. After a few seconds, an officer answered, "Copy," with a voice that was officious, amused and resigned all at once.

How do police officers telegraph such emotion while seemingly sticking to the facts over the radio? I'm sure they are making every effort not to, but the human element cannot be denied, it seems.

It's good for us because, as they say in show business, that's entertainment.

- Erin Mills

Weekenders are lighthearted comments on recent events provided by East Oregonian reporters and editors. They represent the views of the authors and are not necessarily those of the East Oregonian or its editorial board.

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