Publisher’s Column: Helping a victim and having your say on county matters

Ronnell Hughes, the man stabbed at an Ontario truck stop, is out of the hospital and recovering and prosecutors press the criminal case against his attacker.

His story has triggered a surge of community support for him, and that includes three restaurants who are devoting part of their New Year’s Eve proceeds to help him. Read about this hometown charity in a story that includes links to our earlier reporting on this awful crime.

Rusty’s, Kanpai join Mackey’s challenge to aid Ontario stabbing victim


Monday morning, the Malheur County Court will hold a public hearing on its plan to take nearly $1 million out of the county contingency fund to cover a real estate deal. Such budget hearings are usually routine and draw little interest, but this one is different. Citizens in Malheur County are showing they are keenly interested in what the county commissioners are doing.

Here’s our story on the hearing:

Citizens can have say on Malheur County plan to tap ‘rainy day fund’ for land buy

Some commenters on our Facebook page are unhappy the hearing is at a time when many people have to work. The Enterprise may carry the hearing live on Facebook, so watch our Facebook page for news on whether that will happen.

But citizens who can’t personally testify at the hearing might still be able to lodge their views in writing for consideration by the county commissioners. Most public bodies that hold public hearings allow for written testimony to be submitted for the record. We haven’t been able to determine over the weekend whether the Malheur County Court would do so, but it seems reasonable to assume the court wouldn’t operate differently than other local governments.

So, what if you want to submit a statement? We can’t guarantee your submission would be accepted in this instance by the county commissioners, but you want to try, we can suggest this.

Write a statement addressed to the Malheur County Court.

State that you wish your statement to be considered for the record for the Supplemental Budget Hearing of Dec. 30.

Provide your remarks, and provide contact information you wish to share (email, address, phone are options).

Email the document to: [email protected]. She is the executive assistant for the county court.

Allow me to be clear: We can make no representation that your statement will be added to the formal record of the hearing. If we learn more definitive information, we will share it immediately. You can also call the county court on Monday before the hearing to learn directly about the way to submit your written testimony: 541-473-5124.

Many of you have had plenty to say about this industrial project, and we gathered up remarks left as part of our recent online survey. You can see what others are saying here:

‘Just be honest’ – respondents want Malheur County Court to be more open with development details


And don’t forget that Vale hosts a mighty fireworks show on New Year’s Eve. Grab a blanket, the kids and come see what a hardy team of volunteers serves up this year.


Finally, remember that the ability of the Enterprise to be your watchdog over those who hold power depends on subscribers and advertisers. Much on the internet is free – and is of . doubtful credibility. With a subscription to the Enterprise, you get local news that is carefully reported, accurate and fair. We tackle tough stories that others shrink from, not because we’re looking for trouble but because that’s our duty to the community. That’s why the First Amendment exists, to safeguard citizens and watch over your interests.

This is a particularly challenging time for our news team as Malheur County officials continue to attack our reporting. They have called it inaccurate without identifying a single error. They have called reporting on industrial development a “vendetta.” That’s nonsense. We’re doing our jobs. They are resorting to personal attacks, such as one county official publicly calling me “emotionally immature.”

None of that deters us from our focus on getting the truth, verifying our facts, and providing you and the rest of the community information you otherwise wouldn’t have. Without our reporting, you wouldn’t know that the county paid $1 million more for farmland than its appraised value. Without our reporting, you wouldn’t know that the county commissioners intend to raid the rainy day fund to cover that buy. And without our reporting, you wouldn’t know that the county needs another $14 million to build out its industrial park and has yet to say where that money will come from.

If you subscribe already, either for our print or digital service, please know that all the employees of the Enterprise are grateful. We each know we have a duty to you and we take that so seriously.

If you don’t subscribe, start the new year with by signing up for our digital news service. For $5 a month, you get around-the-clock access to our website so you can catch up on the news when it’s convenient for you. You’ll get email notices and more. Support a news gathering team second to none in eastern Oregon by clicking HERE.

Thanks for spending a few moments with me.

Les Zaitz, editor and publisher

Email: [email protected]