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Mail Tribune editorials

A single calling area for the region is an idea whose time has come. Let's do it

Shayne Maxwell has a good idea, and city leaders across the Rogue Valley should get on board and help her accomplish her goal.

Maxwell, who lives between Rogue River and Gold Hill, got mad about her phone bill and decided to do something about it. The result is a push to create a local calling area encompassing most of Southern Oregon.

She has the support of Sen. Lenn Hannon, R-Ashland, and is seeking endorsements of the effort from every community in the area, incorporated or not. She should get those endorsements.

Folks who live in Rogue River must dial long distance to reach nearly anyone else in the valley. Their situation is the most extreme, but long-distance charges also apply from Ashland to many communities in the north end of the county, and Grants Pass is a toll call for most of Jackson County.

Solving that problem involves a lengthy and complicated process through the state Public Utilities Commission, which oversees utility rates in Oregon. If enough local support is expressed for creating a single local calling region for Southern Oregon, the PUC would spend up to a year and a half researching a proposed rate structure.

It's not possible to predict now what the new rates would be, but it is safe to assume that everyone's phone bill would get a little larger. At the same time, however, long-distance rates would drop ' especially for those people who call other local communities frequently.

That's especially important for businesses, and for government and other public agencies. Rogue Community College, for instance, has campuses in Medford and in Grants Pass.

That's why the effort has already garnered a letter of support from Gordon Safley, executive director of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. Safley says a single calling area would be a plus for his agency and others seeking to attract new businesses and new jobs to the region.

Beyond that, it simply makes sense for people in a region as distinct as ours to be able to call each other without racking up big phone bills. We urge community leaders to support the effort.

It's about time

It appears that crosswalk stings conducted by the Medford Police Department have actually worked.

In five targeted pedestrian enforcement operations, citations have gone down but traffic volume has not, according to police.

The police department believes the drop in tickets is due to increased public awareness. Drivers seem more aware of pedestrian laws after the series of stings.

It's about time. In Oregon, it's actually been somewhat of a tradition to ignore pedestrian laws, which require that motorists stop and allow pedestrians to cross. Violating this state law carries a &

36;175 fine, as does passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

In the stings, officers posed as pedestrians seeking to cross at an intersection. The decoy pedestrian wore a bright red vest during part of three operations conducted by officers.

Drivers had a variety of excuses for violating the laws: Some claimed that the pedestrian was on the sidewalk and not in the intersection; others said they didn't see a pedestrian, that they thought the person was a police officer or construction worker, or that they didn't know they had to stop.

Motorists should be aware that silly excuses such as these will not keep them from getting a ticket in a forthcoming sting, or from getting a ticket at other times from officers on patrol.

Police plan another nine stings through September. To suggest a location, call 774-2269.

Otherwise, pay attention. The pedestrian you refuse to let use the crosswalk may give you a ticket. It's high time police got tough on these pedestrian laws.