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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

We enjoyed Howard PrairieAlthough saddened by the recent story in the Mail Tribune regarding the delinquent activities of messy persons utilizing unauthorized east-side campsites, we feel compelled to write about our family's recent visit to Howard Prairie.

In March, we were the high bidders at the annual Mobility Unlimited auction for a weekend Howard Prairie Schooner RV package donated by the resort. We recently took advantage of our gift and were looking forward to our first experience ever at Howard Prairie. We introduced ourselves to Chris Johnston, resort manager, and were welcomed with friendliness and kindness. Staffers at the store and around the "legal" campgrounds were personable, cheery, and helpful. Other campers were quiet and polite &

8212; respecting nature and human surroundings. Not a speck of litter was found anywhere.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and have already made plans to return next year. Hopefully, the recent article will not deter folks from going out and enjoying this beautiful location. Keep up the good work, Howard Prairie! &

8212; Jo and Neal Smith, Jacksonville

Expensive intersection

The Aug. — article for the start of construction of the new "roundabout" stated that 20,000 vehicles use the Highland-Siskiyou intersection every day. (I would like to see the survey data.) Since the population of Medford is around 70,000, does this mean that nearly a third of the population uses this intersection daily? Using the favored "road builder's" word, it must be a "failed" intersection at that usage.

This sounds like an inflated way to justify $1.18 million cost for this project. The previous estimates were $780,000! Has anyone calculated the cost per foot of this roundabout? Assuming that it is about 80 feet in diameter there is approximately 200 equivalent linear feet of 18-foot wide road costing the equivalent of approximately $31 million per mile! That is pretty expensive paving even including additional paving.

It is unfortunate that this intersection was originally so poorly designed to warrant such an expensive redesign. Also, has anyone considered how a fire truck will navigate this roundabout?

Why not just fill in the "confusing and dangerous" side turn lane and make it a wider four-way stop with turn lanes and use the money left over for the ailing schools or more policemen? &

8212; Jeff Fox, Medford

Signs are around usNow 99.9 percent of scientists believe global warming is caused by the human behavior of burning fossil fuels. This is not an absolute certainly, but it sure looks like it is coming. The weather channel recently reported that in the lower 48 states between Jan. 1, 2006, and June 30, 2006, the temperature was 3.5 degrees higher than normal.

A lot of people in Jackson County and the world are buying hybrid cars to reduce their gasoline bill and help reduce emissions that contribute to global warming. This is an especially a pertinent problem in this area because our valley is like a bowl with nowhere for the pollution to go. The EPA wants to eliminate our only station that monitors our air quality.

Then our county wants to reduce bus service for a lot of the county which means more people will be using their cars. Everywhere in the world when bus fares are eliminated, the ridership goes up! Also, it would reduce the numbers of cars on our streets.

What are you going to tell your grandchildren when ask "Why you ignored the problem?" What is more important, a turnabout or everybody's health? &

8212; Bruce Bauer, Medford

Bond looks to futureOur public schools are in desperate need of repair and now is the time. Waiting five years would cost us five times as much! Our district has worked hard to pinpoint exactly how to fix our schools in a cost-efficient manner.

The state provides funds to our schools to run them only. It is your duty to continue public schools for the next generations. The future of this valley, county, state and country are dependent on good decisions made by citizens to materially support public schools.

Nothing about the plans the upcoming bond measure includes is fancy; it is all about making the buildings functional, long-lasting and safe. The money spent to fix the schools is wise, the bond measure is well-written and we need to put our money into the future of our schools.

Please vote to support the bond measure to fix our school buildings! &

8212; Cindy Hardcastle, Jacksonville

Mine threatens tranquilityI am a resident living on the outskirts of Jacksonville on Arrowhead Pass Drive. I've been hearing about the Opp Mine issue a lot lately, and have decided it's time to voice my displeasure. I bought my house on acreage about six years ago, and I feel very fortunate to have such a beautiful place to live in such close proximity to Jacksonville and Medford. I was very lucky to find this place, and enjoy the peace and quiet of everyday living.

The idea of someone blasting a mine open less than a mile away from my home scares me to death! This would destroy every bit of peace and quiet I have, not to mention the devaluation of my property. The city of Jacksonville would turn into a dusty, dirty hell, putting to an end the charm and tranquility our residents enjoy.

I moved to Oregon to get away from noise pollution and dirty, filthy air. Please don't let the Opp Mine be reopened! &

8212; James L. Sute, Jacksonville

Crack down on poachersSouthern Oregon has a long-standing problem with poaching, and it needs to be stopped Arizona-style.

Judges and jurors in Jackson County have a very liberal attitude toward poaching that needs to be corrected. Whereas one miscreant just got 70 days in jail for one of the most heinous and flagrant poaching convictions, it's just not enough to discourage others.

Arizona voters approved one of the toughest anti-poaching measures some time ago, and it paid off. Upon conviction, the poacher loses his/her right to hunt for five years; they forfeit their weapon and vehicle used in the crime, a $1,500 fine plus the cost to the state for raising the poached animal(s), and a mandatory six-month jail sentence for each count.

Local judges have routinely winked at poaching, based on a culture wherein it is understood and accepted that people need to eat. Well if someone is that poor, they can get assistance and food stamps. In other words, poaching to feed your family should no longer be seen as an acceptable motive, and when the first violators are convicted and sentenced Arizona-style, you just watch and see how fast poaching grinds to a halt. It worked for Arizona. &

8212; Carl F. Worden, Eagle Point

An environmental nightmareThe proposed zoning "correction" of the Opp Mine is ethically irresponsible.

Owners Hardin and Robertson are either ill-equipped with the facts or unwilling to accept the consequences of their actions. They conveniently gloss over the fact that they're contributing to one of the dirtiest industries in the world.

Mining has significant long-term effects both on the environment and those who live in it, due both to the chemically harmful dousing and moving of the earth and the resulting exposure of heavy metals. This so-called "useless piece of property" has the potential to have hugely detrimental effects on the community.

Given their unwillingness to acknowledge the environmental consequences of gold mining, it's obvious that the proponents will abuse any zoning accommodations they are granted, creating a situation with few &

8212; if any &

8212; limits. I ask the planning commissioners to serve as the check that the owners are unwilling to place on themselves.

Mr. Robertson, do your research. These facts are irrefutable. Withdraw the application. Not only is your proposal an environmental nightmare, but it is an assault on us all.

I urge all Jackson County residents to examine this situation and demand the refusal of Robertson's "evasive and incomplete" application. &

8212; Susan Young, Ashland

Tired of pretendingI've grown tired of the TSA and Bush's fraudulent government pretending they are protecting the public, when they have done little to prevent another 9-11. It's still easy to carry onboard the large non-metallic knives used by the terrorists by simply ordering one online for $20 and taping it to one's leg.

The banning of liquids is just as worthless a tactic, because any liquid can be put in a rubber bladder, taped to the body and walked onboard. So, forcing innocent people to throw away pocket knives, tiny scissors, soda, expensive perfume, toothpaste, etc., and making everyone take off their shoes is just plain harassment and does nothing to make anyone safer. Confiscating everything that could be used as a weapon just makes it harder for passengers to defend themselves and actually gives the terrorists the advantage.

There has not been another attempted hijacking because the terrorists know passengers will now defend themselves. Flight 93 is proof of that, and the government knows it.

What will make us safer is when so-called Christians and Jews stop fueling the fires of hatred by needlessly murdering tens of thousands of innocent Muslims. Expect retribution for our paranoid racist slaughter. &

8212; Darryl Edington, Eagle Point

Who benefits from war?Recently, it was reported that the United States was supplying precision bombs to Israel. Israel must have used this ordnance, judging from the news reports from Lebanon. Reportedly, the Israelis killed many innocent people, not to mention the destroyed and terribly damaged infrastructure.

Almost in the same time period of supplying the precision bombs, the United States gave indication it would contribute millions of dollars toward Lebanon's rebuilding. Who is going to benefit from this asinine reasoning? For sure not the American taxpayers!

One positive happening is that American men and women are not fighting and dying for Israel's interests, as is happening in Iraq. &

8212; Jim Caldwell, Yreka, Calif.

A form of blackmailLet's get real! Charter knew what they were doing! They even stated that anytime changes are made they are going to hear about it.

Let's call it like it is, a form of blackmail. Subscribers are already upgrading to get their old channels back. It's about the color of money!

Satisfied customers and a loyal following is what makes a corporation a success. Start messing with that and what goes around comes around.

It's not just about TV, it's about the everyday American knowing that someone isn't in their pocket again to gain for their own net value.

Remember viewers are the reason Charter exists. It's just not a "Bug's Life." &

8212; Patricia L. Grissom, Central Point

Charter hurt seniorsWouldn't it be a lovely gesture for Charter to make available to qualified seniors and/or senior facilities this special box that allows them the channels that used to be available to them prior to this switch?

When you are already stretching your fixed income and you have to make a choice of an already limited entertainment venue, it just seems like the right thing to do for our senior population. Taking away the channels most attractive to that age group and dangling a higher price tag in front of them (many without notice) is just cruel. &

8212; Heidi Shevawn Graca, Medford

A black eye for CharterSome customers may be OK with the sudden channel changes by Charter Cable, some may not care, and many will be very upset! Charter, a recognized "Public Utility" service provider, has committed a disservice to its subscribers by not having the consideration to pre-notify its customer base for their input prior to the making of such a decision, which may well cause a lasting effect upon the company's footprint in the area it serves.

Many of Charter's cable viewers cannot afford to readily make a switch to HDTV to be able to view the popular channels moved away from them. It is very unfortunate that Charter has tarnished its image as a "public minded servant" failing its responsibility first by lack of prior notification, then with an "after the fact" announcement in the Mail Tribune followed with the error of late mailing of channel line-up information! What can they do to top this blunder? &

8212; Dean Way, Medford

Basic subscribers forgottenI am an occasional visitor to Ashland and part-owner of a condo here. It strikes me that the Mail Tribune missed an essential part of the Charter Cable company fiasco.

Forgotten in the article are the many lower-income folks on Basic: The working poor, the seniors on Social Security only, the housebound. Many of them choose perhaps between Basic cable and a better diet, less medications, etc., because cable is their lifeline to the world.

Now Charter has reduced the number of channels from 32 to 24 and taken away the decent channels they had such as Northwest Cable News, the Discovery and the Learning Channels. There will be no more Hallmark with its programs suitable for all ages, no more TBS with its good second-run movies.

Even if the FCC has suggested grouping like programs, with today's technological breakthroughs Charter could program their system to provide Basic with at least what customers had before (are they reducing the price now?). Even the promise of it would go far to mitigate the dismay of Basic customers. We are left with the question: Is Charter trying to get rid of Basic customers or force people to upgrade? &

8212; Joyce Ray, Ashland

Stop the gougingI see where Charter Cable has once again demonstrated the massive indifference to customer service, which is the hallmark of the company. In their quest for larger and larger profits and their corporate greed they realigned their channel lineup so that basic cable customers now only get shopping networks and local programming. No news channels, no Discovery Channel.

The city, in its infinite wisdom, continues to grant Charter a monopoly on cable services to the detriment of the pocketbooks of its citizens. Cable service in Ashland is cheaper than in Medford because of competition.

It is past time for the city to throw open the market to competition. For people on fixed incomes that are frequently less than $1,000 per month it is a travesty to expect them to pay $70-$100 per month for cable. The infrastructure for cable was paid for decades ago. It is time for the gouging to stop. &

8212; Howard C. Jones, Medford

What does Charter believe?Charter Cable's decision to change the "mix" of the basic and expanded channels has left me and many of my college students without CNN or Fox News as a 24/7 source for news, political discussion and information. Instead, these channels have been replaced with a plethora of shopping, sitcoms and infomercials.

While there is a place for this type of programming, it cannot replace the critical thinking skills one exercises and enjoys when watching CNN or Fox News. This new mix of programming does not provide much in the way of stimulating conversation material for the workplace or school.

Does Charter Cable believe that their basic service customers do not enjoy or need to be informed and stimulated by these world news sources? Or, more ominous, does Charter Cable believe in these times of worldwide conflicts their basic customers &

8212; who include poor college students, lower-income families or folks like me who don't need or want 100 channels of programming &

8212; should not have access to opposing points of view and information to compare and discuss within our communities? &

8212; Randall Roos, Medford

Charter doesn't careCharter Communications stinks &

8212; the way they keep taking the best stations (e.g. TNT) off their basic packages without notifying or giving a darn about their customers &

8212; no one can stop them. I used to be able to get TNT in the basic package but now can't get it unless I buy an expanded, much more expensive package.

They've been doing this all along, trying to force people to buy more with them spending more and more money, yet it's just a signal costing them no more either way. Charter doesn't care about their customers or they'd let the customer pick the stations. They have mostly crap now in the basic channels. &

8212; John C. Smith, Rogue River

One less bill to payThis morning I awoke to discover I no longer have access to Fox News Channel. The reason being it has been moved to a channel beyond what I am willing and able to pay for. Consequence: I canceled my cable totally.

Now, if I want to see what Fox News has to offer (and I do), I'll go to the Internet and read it at my convenience.

Fox News was the one channel I was willing to pay for on cable TV. It's nice to know I will have one less bill to pay each month. Thank you, Charter Communications! &

8212; Willa Johnson, Phoenix

Doing the mathLet's do the math on the "new" Charter cable changes: Analog Basic by my count is now 25 channels, of which four are leased access (infomercials at best) plus two shopping channels (HSN & QVC); next are the four P.E.G. educational channels, one TV Guide channel (continuous infomercial disguised as programming); two CSPAN (occasionally worth a watch); Univision (sorry &

8212; no offense, but I can't speak Spanish); and two religious channels OK, that's 15 of 25 channels I find of little to no value.

Now look at what I lost: NW Cable News, FOX, the list goes on, unless I pay for expanded basic.

Proudly I will pay about $14 a month/$168 a year to basically get six local channels &

8212; no, not really, neither will I pay their blackmail to get the channels they expect I want for hundreds of dollars more a year &

8212; never pay a blackmailer, let the law do its work. In this case the city of Medford should take a harder look at Charter and how the public is being served.

Meanwhile, we should all take a line from the old movie "Network," "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Off to look at satellite dishes. &

8212; Bob King, Medford

Explanation is baloneyMike O'Herron's excuse for the delay in announcing Charter's channel switch is baloney. As of Wednesday both the Charter Web site and their most recent e-mail newsletter had the wrong channel lineup. Is the printer to blame for that too? The change is just one more way to extort more money and force subscribers to purchase a higher tier and rent cable boxes. It's time for Charter subscribers to think seriously about satellite TV. &

8212; Peter Ladue, Medford