Let me get this straight. Jackson County runs a dilapidated, nonworking dam (Gold Ray) that is known to harm salmon. The feds have offered to pay to remove it. If we say no, Jackson County taxpayers will pay millions of dollars to remove it later.

Let me get this straight. Jackson County runs a dilapidated, nonworking dam (Gold Ray) that is known to harm salmon. The feds have offered to pay to remove it. If we say no, Jackson County taxpayers will pay millions of dollars to remove it later.

What are we arguing about? Take the money. — Joe Vaile, Ashland

Unless Congress acts, an important conservation tool will expire at the end of 2009. The law, which helps protect clean water, natural areas and working family farms and ranches, enhances the federal tax benefits for landowners who donate voluntary conservation agreements. These agreements help conserve natural resources important to our community while keeping land in productive private ownership.

The enhanced incentive has proven effective, helping land trusts across the country conserve 535,000 more acres in 2006 and 2007 than in the two years prior to its enactment, 5,000 of which are in Southern Oregon.

Fortunately, Congress is taking action to make the incentive permanent, with the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, HR 1831, and its companion bill in the Senate, S 812. The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy joins America's 1,700 land trusts and their 2 million supporters to welcome efforts to make this important conservation tool permanent.

The people of the Rogue Valley believe in protecting the cultural fabric and natural resources that make our community a great place to live, and with a helping hand from Congress, we'll be able to conserve even more land for years to come. — Diane Garcia, executive director, Southern Oregon Land Conservancy

I want to thank the majority of my fellow Americans who are listening carefully and giving the health-care issue thoughtful consideration.

The issues are complex, but the basic facts are undeniable. Insurance companies often stand between our medical providers and us, the patients. The doctor is often waiting for the insurance companies' permission to take care of us. Our premiums are now becoming out of the reach of individuals and employers.

Finally, 47 million Americans should not be second-class citizens in this wonderful land. Please continue to listen to all sides of this complex issue. Together, as we always have, we will come to a just and reasonable answer. — Teresa Mitchell, Central Point

Those of us with questions and concerns about the coming health-care reform have been called lots of things "¦ but according the letter in the paper on the 25th, we are now "childish."

I have questions about the proposals in Congress. Nowhere are the answers consistent. Questioning is something children do without hesitation. So, asking questions to understand something is "childish," I guess.

I am concerned about the growing debt we are leaving for future generations. I thought it was going to get better; it's getting worse. After hearing from the Congressional Budget Office and others, I question this whole approach to health-care reform. Maybe we should find those things that most need repair and concentrate there. This is "childish"?

The writer seemed to imply: "We" are in power now, "you" folks are pouting. I thought government was a combination of all of the parties and all of our ideas. I thought we were in this together.

Yes, we may disagree, but this is our country and we need to reason together, not just give up or take over. Hhmm, another "childish" thought?

Well, bless the children, for they shall lead. — Lynda Saling, Medford

The U.S. is the only major industrialized country without some form of health care covering all citizens. The majority of bankruptcy cases are health-related.

Some people have health insurance that does not cover their claims. The insurance companies turn down a percentage of claims as part of their business plan. Other people have pre-existing medical conditions, and many cannot afford the high premiums.

Your physician does not make the major decisions regarding your health care. The insurance company does. This results in dangerous delays and deaths for thousands annually.

Approximately 30 percent of all health-care costs are administrative. Your physicians are drowning in paperwork from around 200 insurance companies, each with its own protocol. These policies lead to a rationing of health care.

The health-care Industry is just that. To make money for the company higher echelons, who make millions each year, and the stockholders. There is a lot at stake in this fight, resulting in much misinformation and lies about government intervention in health care. Seniors, generally, are happy with their government intervention, Medicare.

Our system has the highest expenditures and lowest return in value. Each year costs rise. We need a public option. — Barbara M. Schuerman, RN (retired), Ashland

The way we pay for health care now is by the paying patient and the insurance premium carrying the exorbitant burden. When employers covered most of the working staff, the (temporarily) healthy shared in the cost.

Now, many of those gamble on "going bare," at the cost for the others, only to increase that burden when their luck runs out. "Reasonable" health care is monitored by ethical primary-care doctors.

Uninsured patients wind up in emergency rooms; because no record on them exists, they are tested from head to toe, over-utilizing the system, at high cost. We must insure all, private or "public."

Obama's pragmatism must be borne out: Disagreeing people can hammer out a solution when faced with a pressing problem. Loyal opposition does not gloat over the failure of government and disavows unfounded scare tactics. — Hans H. Stroo, Medford

Having lived in many communities in different states, I've never lived in one with such an abundance of retirement buildings with rental units. It makes me wonder why there aren't more housing options for 55-plus people in this valley.

Clusters of small patio homes for older buyers is a definite need. Well-designed spaces with 1,000 to 1,400 square feet that would sell for $225,000 or less would attract many who would rather own their manageable home than pay for a rental in a large facility.

There are numerous manufactured home parks for 55-plus residents. Even so, they live with the threat of ever-escalating space rent.

There are many retired people who do not want large homes with traditional yards to maintain. One-level homes with front porches and a community garden would promote social interaction and mutual support. Smaller homes are more energy-efficient and require fewer furnishings. They're also easier to clean!

Build them and they will come. — J.R. Hunts, Medford

Something occurred to me the other day while I was listening to the president's weekly radio address. He was again debunking all of the various scare-tactics and lies that have been circulated by the health-care industry and their congressional and senatorial employees.

It seems to me that the political discussion in this country (the president refers to it rather charitably as a "vigorous debate") is very much analogous to a classroom where they only learn at the pace of the slowest student. The so-called debate is really just the people with the facts trying to help the slow kids catch up so we can get it right and move on to the next subject. — Brent Staley, Medford