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What's he going to do'Is that the American flag wrapped around the head of peach-picker Jorge Jimenez July 26? What's he going to do with it when it's stained and sweat-soaked? Burn it? &

8212; Jura Sherwood, Phoenix

Consider user feesSo we need four libraries from Ashland to Medford! That is within approximately 12 miles, yet!

The property owners are, and will be, paying off this $38.9 million for some time to come. Surely, that is more than enough responsibility to saddle the property owners with. I refer to the guest opinion by Jim Olney in the July 16 MT wherein he cited the numbers of books, audiovisual items checked out, etc. &

8212; "about eight items for every man, woman, and child in the county." I suggest that a small user's fee for each of these items, as well as the conference rooms, could and should very well make the libraries self-supporting. The property owners should not be burdened with everything! &

8212; Mary Engelson and Dave Dukes, Medford

Oppose the Opp mineAs a longtime Jackson County resident and frequent visitor to Jacksonville, I am appalled that a 157-acre open-pit aggregate/gold mine, the historic Opp Mine, is being considered for development a mile from Jacksonville and bordering Jackson Creek. The implications of an operation of this size are enormous in terms of noise, truck traffic, tourism and its effect on the Britt Festival.

As the spouse of a geologist, I am aware of the air and water pollution potential of blasting, crushing and transporting of possibly contaminated aggregate, then spreading it throughout the county's building projects. I am aware that the Opp mine had a 20 stamp mill. Stamp mills used mercury and cyanide to process gold. These toxins remain in the ground. I am most concerned for the health and safety of families nearby who would be exposed to such toxic materials.

If this could happen in Jacksonville, couldn't Ashland or Medford be next? Please let the Jackson County planners and commissioners know you oppose this project. Attend the next public hearing on Aug. 10 at 9 a.m. in the county building on Oakdale. &

8212; Karen Gans, Ashland

An inconvenient truthThe hypocrisy of the left, particularly here in Ashland, the hotbed of diversity and tolerance, is breathtaking.

God forbid that a business identify itself by flying a clean, untattered and officially scaled U.S. flag for fear of upsetting Ashland's sensibilities. Have you seen the flag flown by the city in the Plaza? It's tired and faded, much like the left's political arguments. And how is it OK for businesses to fly Mexican or Tibetan prayer flags or display Che Guevara banners in front of their establishments, but not an American flag?

Ashland's streets are filled with politically correct and very expensive Volvo XC90s, BMW X5s, VW Touaregs and Porsche Cayennes whose EPA mileage ratings are less than 20 percent better than those of the Hummer2 scorned, mocked and vandalized by Ashland elitists. And don't you just love the crowd of old, smoky, leaky Volvos in Ashland &

8212; the ones with the "Kill Your TV" and "Free Tibet" bumper stickers belching noxious tailpipe fumes? Isn't that an inconvenient truth? &

8212; Bill Bartlett, Ashland

The math is simple"Murder!" That was the word quoted by Press Secretary Tony Snow. The president doesn't believe in "murder."

Give me a "Cheney word"-ing break. W has been responsible for the deaths and maiming of more innocent lives than we'll ever be told. And to that list will be added hundreds of thousands more who will die and/or suffer unmercifully and unnecessarily because of his base.

And I'm not alluding to his far-right Christian base, though they have their pockets in this, too. I'm speaking of his far-right, gigantic pharmaceutical base. The math is simple; people live disease-free lives and there goes trillions upon trillions of dollars in funding. Oh, "W word"! Git mah drift? &

8212; Marlyn Mason, Medford

Thanks to a stranger

On July 14 my stepmother took a bad fall on Stevens Street near Crater Lake Avenue. She shattered her left shoulder and was unable to move or get up to get help.

A wonderful gentleman stopped to help her, called for help and stayed with her until the paramedics came. He continued to stay with her until she was stabilized and on the ambulance. My stepmother told me this gentleman was so kind.

Dear Sir, we do not know who you are, but my family and I want you to know how grateful we are that you took the time to help. You went above and beyond and it is deeply appreciated. We feel like you were her guardian angel that day. Thank you from all of us. &

8212; Lynne Dittmer, Medford

Improve foster care

The story of the child, Dylan, whose life was destroyed while in foster care underscores a problem endemic to the current foster system.

A common complaint from Children's Protective Services is that they "can't find enough good foster parents." The flip side must be "we have to put the children in homes that are less than good."

I think the Department of Human Services needs to adopt some changes that would protect these children better.

First, leave them in their own homes and offer services to help the problems whenever possible.

Second, provide a staffed facility so that no child has to go to a less-than-safe foster home; there is no evidence that the trauma of being removed from your own parents is somehow assuaged by being plopped down in a complete stranger's home any more or less than a staffed facility that reduces the risk of abuse. It is, however, cheaper to house children in foster homes.

Third, upgrade the status of foster parents to include the same health benefits that other government employees receive, so that more people can afford to open their homes. The present system invites two classes of foster parents: saints and the otherwise unemployable. &

8212; Christine Alford, Gold Hill

Council should get real

I was incensed at the idea of the Medford City Council's idea about taxing any meals we might enjoy eating out in a restaurant. Needless to say, I was glad when they sunk that ship.

However, now the City Council is considering placing an added tax on our real property taxes (which are raised every year already); or placing taxes on our utilities; or a cell phone tax fee. I believe if the city of Medford would spend their money in a prudent way, as we citizens must do, they would have enough money to cover whatever they need.

Can someone tell me what the city of Medford is doing with all the new property taxes they are receiving from the hundreds upon hundreds of huge homes which have been built in Medford over the past few years? It would seem to me that those taxes alone would be sufficient to cover the funds the city seems to think are needed.

I would like to see the Medford City Council "Get real!" &

8212; Jeannie Gladson, Medford

A culture of wasteful death

President Bush, in his continuing efforts to make our nation his personal theocracy, ignored the will of Congress and of the vast majority of Americans and vetoed the bill funding embryonic stem-cell research. Mr. Bush should not have the right to dictate his narrow religious views to the rest of the country, especially not in an area as important for medical science as the potential breakthroughs available through stem-cell research.

The appropriate analogy in this situation is not the murder of innocent children for medical benefit. No one supports that.

The appropriate analogy is organ donation. If my child dies, that is a terrible tragedy, but I may try and provide some good to others through organ donation. Similarly, if I have an excess frozen embryo I should have the right to allow others to benefit from that tissue as opposed to simply discarding it.

Because that is the fact. The 400,000 surplus embryos are not children awaiting adoption. They will be disposed of as medical waste.

Isn't it better to have some good for humankind come out of that rather than simply more waste disposal? Bush is choosing the culture of wasteful death, not of life. &

8212; Debra Koutnik, M.D., Ashland

Deprived of healing

Desperate to shore up his support base, President Bush vetoes the stem-cell research bill overwhelmingly passed by a Congress his party controls.

This action flies in the face of sound theological arguments from no less than the respected Christian scholars Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas, as well as the contemporary scientific community. An embryo has no spirit or soul. In the case of the frozen embryos at issue it is undisputed that almost all of them will be destroyed.

Spinal cord and Alzheimer victims, diabetics and others are deprived of the possibility of healing in the future. Why? Because a massive majority of American citizens has allowed a small cadre of wealthy, selfish, militant religious extremists to control this president. &

8212; George McCartin, Jacksonville

Tow-truck heroes

I have Triple A. It's a great investment if you drive old beaters like I do. Never has a year gone by that I haven't used their service.

My hero drives up, hooks onto my car and takes it to my house, where it's coaxed back into service. From call to arrival at home, I'm in a state of thankfulness for that card. It's a pleasant experience, I never see a bill &

8212; heck, they don't ask me to sign anything or even look at my card anymore, lucky me!

Some conversations about tow-truck companies got my attention, though. A friend's daughter had her truck stolen; it cost them $450 to get it back from the tow company. My good Samaritan neighbor lent a fellow his truck last week. It got towed &

8212; $250 to the tow company and $150 to the police department.

It seems every time the hand on the clock passes midnight, they chalk on another three-digit figure &

8212; lucky them! And we thought airport parking was high. &

8212; Lorna Erskine, Jacksonville