Letters, Jan. 9
What’s wrong with us?
What the heck is wrong with you Jackson County? The stunning juxtaposition on the front page of the Local section of the newspaper Jan. 5 takes my breath away. On the far right side of the page is an article about the record number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon. Jackson County reported 132 new cases and five more deaths the previous day. Rogue Valley hospitals are nearly full with only two open ICU beds and only 7% of regular hospital beds available.
Beside this article is a photograph of the stands in the gym at South Medford High School with a large “Masks Required” sign in the foreground. Studying that photograph showed that out of three dozen or so people sitting there, only two were properly masked. Most were not masked at all.
This is nuts. The omicron strain of the coronavirus is highly contagious and is shared in the air we breathe. Cheering at a basketball game unmasked is another tragedy just waiting to happen.
Ashland’s park system
At the Jan. 3 City Council study session, Gina DuQuenne asked temporary City Manager Gary Millman, “Do you feel like it would be beneficial for the community of Ashland to be able to roll back parks and rec and put them under the umbrella of the city of Ashland?” Millman answered, “I think that the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department (sic) should be a department of the city.”
Don Laws, longtime and well-respected city councilor, had a different response. Don’s answer was that having an elected body whose sole purpose was supporting and guiding parks and recreation, ensured there would be advocates for a diverse, robust, well-funded park system as Ashland has historically enjoyed.
A system like Ashland’s doesn’t just happen. It happened because Ashlanders, including a long line of parks commissioners, have advocated for trails, a park within a quarter mile of all residents (an equity issue), athletic fields, a nature center and more.
Changing the city charter, as this initiative would require, should not be taken lightly. An effort of this magnitude, draining city government time and energy, should only be pursued if there are minimal costs and substantial, measurable benefits. I don’t believe either condition exists.