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Fruit growers do well

Not making more money? Not true! Many local fruit growers are multimillionaires.

Thoughtful Americans support healthy foods. Three hundred acres can produce organically grown fruits, vegetables, beef, lamb, pork and poultry to make good money for farmers. Farmland and the ability to feed itself is a great part of a nation's well-being.

Private landowners use farmland for a time. There is no national social duty to allow any mortal to destroy farmland for personal gain. ' Beth Boyle, Ashland

Sunshine laws protect public

Bush lectures Putin about democracy while our government suppresses news and hires hacks to mislead. Public servants hide potentially embarrassing information.

The federal government's blatant conspiracy pattern of silence, spin and lying infects authority at all levels whenever public records are denied the media or a mayor gags a council. Not just a media problem, it's arrogant public abuse.

Sunshine laws open public records to protect citizens. Media coverage is one means to that end. ' G. E. Myers, Jacksonville

Thanks to skaters

I didn't get their names, but I really want to thank the teenage boys at Bear Creek skate park. Also the elderly gentlemen that asked for the boys' help.

Monday morning, Feb. 28, I took my mother to the park to take a stroll on the walkway in her wheelchair. We parked in the handicapped parking. With my first push to get my mom up the small ramp, the front wheel got stuck in a pothole and down went my mom to the ground.

Thanks to the boys for getting her back up and in her chair. I reported the problem to one of the park workers later that day. He assured me that the pothole will get fixed. I will make a formal report to the Parks Department to make sure they do follow through. In the meantime, wheelchairs beware.

Thank you, boys, again. ' L.Nokes, Medford

Maintain a buffer

It is tragic when elected city and county officials won't fight to maintain buffers between cities.

No city in Jackson County has an adequate sprawl-preventing infill program. Proposed low- density annexations cause exponential increases in traffic, loss of resource lands, and greater pressures toward the extinction of species through loss of wildlife habitat.

Leaders of Medford and Phoenix, Jackson County leaders and representatives from the Rogue Valley Council of Governments must establish a permanent buffer between Phoenix and Medford so these communities maintain separate identities. Both cities with their current low densities already have enough underdeveloped land to accommodate much future growth.

That a developer bought land on speculation to add to the sprawl problem should not matter in the decision to establish a buffer. It is also inappropriate for tax-base discussions to affect decisions whether or not to include parcels in growth plans. If the goal is to increase tax bases, let people do more with their land within existing city limits with an infill program where the infrastructure is already present.

Phoenix Council Member Terry Helfrich has the right idea. Let's hope other elected officials in Medford and Phoenix will also fight for a buffer. It is needed. ' Brent Thompson, Ashland, president, Friends of Jackson County

A housing quiz

There's a cookie-cutter tract house for sale down the street from me. It's being sold by its original owner, and the asking price is &

36;359,500. If they get their price by the end of April it will have increased in value &

36;5,395 a month since they bought it.

A. What did the original owners pay for the house in April of 2003?

B. If a person makes minimum wage, what percentage of their monthly income will the payment be?

For extra credit, answer these bonus questions:

C. Where in the valley is the house located? (No fair peeking at the bottom of this letter.)

D. Will somebody be dumb enough to pay that much?

E. If so, what state will the new owners come from?

F. Is there really one born every minute?

H. If you own, could you afford to buy your house today?

I. If sprawl creates affordable housing for minorities, why is my neighborhood all white?

J. To go to the head of the class, solve this formula:

Debt + Interest + Time = Greed. ' Joi Riley, Talent

The talent is huge

People who use their talents to help others are to be commended. And it's a fact that talent can often far exceed the ability to, say, write a check for a good cause.

That's exactly what will happen when Beth Baker brings her one-night-only show to The Craterian on Sunday, March 13. She can't write a check for Healing Journeys (a wonderful nonprofit organization that helps people with cancer), but she surely can sing for them! And if this show's successful, Beth wants to make it an annual event, choosing a different local charity each year to benefit.

Prices for the show are modest, but the talent is huge. This combination can't be beat, especially in one's own back yard. ' Nancy Bardos, Ashland