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Letters, May 7

Jill Franko for School Board

Jill Franko puts her heart into everything she does and serves the community with compassion. She’s also not afraid to dig into the numbers and find real solutions.

Ashland schools have declining enrollment and a community whose demographic is expected to change. Both of these issues make it hard for the district to do anything but maintain the status quo. We need people on the school board that can think creatively about how to solve our budget challenges while simultaneously keeping Ashland schools innovative and rigorous.

As someone who has served our district on several different committees over the years, I understand the skills needed to serve on the School Board. Please join me in voting for Jill Franko for position 1 of the Ashland School Board.

Mark DiRienzo


Dogs in Lithia Park

Ashland boasts 18 parks, including a dog park. Just two of these parks are off-limits to dogs: Lithia and North Mountain, with numerous signs explaining why. The fine for bringing dogs into these two parks is $115 — and yet people continue to bring their dogs into these two parks, sometimes multiple dogs, sometimes even off-leash.

This means that people who don’t like to be around dogs, perhaps because of adverse experiences/attacks, have nowhere to walk dog-free in this dog-crazed town. (Let me not even go into the poop problem.)

I was briefly a Parks and Recreation volunteer in Lithia Park, where one of my duties was to politely let dog-walkers know that dogs were not allowed, and they could be fined. The verbal abuse I received in response quickly brought that volunteer gig to an end. I occasionally alert particularly egregious dog people to the posted signs; the verbal abuse has escalated, to the point of being grabbed by an angry dog owner.

By contrast, I recently walked the Upper Table Rock trail, which used to be full of dogs.

There was one simple sign saying no dogs. I passed about 150 hikers, zero dogs. How very pleasant. These walkers probably understand that “No Dogs” means protection for other creatures and plants, even dogs themselves.

Perhaps the problem in Ashland is related to feelings of entitlement? Privilege? Fragility? (Let me not even go into the abuse of “service dog.”)

We have a dog park.

Maybe it’s time for a people’s park?

Julia Sommer