Puzzles should be easier soon

The daily crossword puzzles have been noticeably more difficult oflate. Do we have a new composer?-- Lu V., Medford

You're not the only one who has remarked on this, Lu. The change couldbe the result of a crossword editor transition under way at Tribune MediaServices, which provides the puzzles that appear in the Mail Tribune Mondaythrough Saturday.

The bottom line: Starting next week, you might notice that the puzzleswill be a bit easier.

That's partly because of the Nov. 24 retirement of longtime editor HerbEttenson, 81, who is being replaced by Wayne Williams, 49. Williams hasconstructed more than 6,000 puzzles in his career.

Williams says his puzzles, which debut Monday, will feature fewer abbreviations,proper names and foreign words, along with less ``crosswordese. TribuneMedia Services says it's also planning to ease the difficulty of the puzzles.Like Ettenson's puzzles, Williams'

will be easier at the beginning of each week than they are at the end.

By the way, Lu, the service does offer an even simpler puzzle -- oneit calls rather easy. But you really wouldn't want it to beeasy, would you?

Puzzle fans can get in touch with Williams directly via e-mail at or by writing:

Mark Mathes, editor

Tribune Media Services

435 N. Michigan Ave.

Suite 1400

Chicago, IL 60611

Why weren't sidewalks installed when the city redeveloped the northeastcorner of Biddle and McAndrews roads? Also, why didn't the city requiresidewalks in front of the new State Farm Insurance office on Poplar Drive?-- Rick S., Shady Cove

No anti-sidewalk conspiracy here, Rick.

The city didn't require immediate installation of sidewalks at Biddleand McAndrews because it had plans to secure a federal grant to pay fora right-turn lane at that corner. Engineers figured it didn't make senseto build a sidewalk, then remove it for the turn-lane work, then rebuildit. But now funding for the $100,000 project has been approved; LTM Inc.is scheduled to begin work in early January on the new turn lane and sidewalk.

As for Poplar Drive, it's No. 8 on a waiting list of city street improvementprojects that probably won't be started until after 2000. When the roadwayis widened and improved in that stretch north of McAndrews, sidewalks willbe included in the project. Engineers say it's not prudent to install asidewalk before roadway improvement because of the difficulty of matchingan existing sidewalk to a new road.

(Send your questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom,P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by fax to (541) 776-4376; or by e-mailto:

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Copyright © & The MailTribune 1997, Medford, Oregon USA