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A room without windowsA town without a public library is like a room without windows. Whatever it takes to keep our public libraries open must be done.

We need them for the public's mental and intellectual health. We need them as a public space wherein our citizens may freely and agreeably gather and converse and share civic life, sheltered from the incessant commercial blare that too often envelopes us all.

The county should do what it takes to preserve and enhance our public libraries. &

8212; Ragan Cavanaugh, Ashland

Libraries indispensable

Citizens interested in keeping Jackson County's libraries and other services fully operational should contact their senators and congressmen at once.

The recent passage of bonds to build new library facilities clearly shows that voters want a first-class literacy system in their communities. Benjamin Franklin's legacy of public libraries, open and free to all, is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Libraries are an indispensable resource that enable all citizens to acquire the literacy skills to stay informed. They complement our public schools through reading programs for children and serve communities as meeting places.

The U.S. Congress can still be persuaded to fund those operations if enough of us write to ask for an extension of O&C revenues for one more year. &

8212; Timothy E. Cate, Ashland

Commissioners negligent"Extend the O&C federal timber payments for a year to give us time to find alternative funding," beg Senators Bates and Westlund!

If the extension is granted, the Jackson County commissioners will call for a lengthy study by the usual suspects &

8212; has-beens, developers, planners and other special interests that over the last few years knew the O&C funds were coming to an end but stood by and did nothing to alleviate the looming shortfall. The only thought was of growth and greed! Unfortunately for the people, the wolf is now at the door.

If I were a lawyer I would be licking my chops. The Jackson County commissioners, planners et. al. knew or should have known that by approving more and more building, protection for the people by the fire service and law enforcement will become less and less viable. Because of non-funding for expansion by them, people will be placed in jeopardy. The deterioration of roads, buildings and public areas will also become hazardous to health and safety.

It is interesting to note there will be a public hearing on the above issue. Will someone please ask the question, "Why have you commissioners allowed this under-performance to happen?" &

8212; Charles D. Tisler, Central Point

Schott opinion excellentThe guest opinion article by David Schott in the Jan. 14 Mail Tribune was excellent. As he said, we need to use the renewable timber resources to save the libraries and other county services.

I suggest we let the voters decide if they want the timber resources used as David Schott suggested. We can't expect the federal bailout forever and we don't need a county income tax. &

8212; Evan and Dorothy Pruitt, Central Point

Some library ideasSo, it's 15 libraries or none? How childish. Do the county commissioners think we are all idiots?

Here are some ideas:

1. Keep one efficient library open in each of the five major towns in the valley.

2. Cut waste like the $90,000 salary of the library director (now there is one sweet job).

3. Stop asking the average taxpayer to pay the equivalent of a year's Internet service for an ancient and inefficient method of accessing information that they rarely use.

4. Stop playing silly games &

8212; we are not as stupid as you may think.

One more thing &

8212; why aren't most public libraries built as a part of a high school? Doesn't it make sense to combine libraries and schools? It's far more cost-effective and efficient to build schools with large libraries that can serve the public as well as students, and also save the taxpayers money. &

8212; Darryl Edington, Eagle Point

Financial statements, pleaseAm I missing something? Why not publicize profit and loss statements in the Mail Tribune for all us voters in Jackson County to review when we are faced with "do or die" tax increases to keep services either funded or open?

Maybe let us see the amount of money available for funding a service (let's say the library) and then list descriptions and amounts of money expensed by line item? The bottom line will tell the tale.

As a voter, I study the booklets and how "yes" or "no" votes will affect laws, but I have yet to see full disclosure when asking Jackson County residents to yet again open their pocketbooks. Am I looking in the wrong place?

Many of us aren't able to go to an open forum. Could someone please tell me if these financial records are published and where to look? I like to be as educated as I can when I vote. &

8212; Ren&

233; Hensley, Central Point

Likes science booksPlease keep the libraries open! I like the science books. &

8212; Landon Moir, age 6, Jacksonville, kindergarten student at Grace Christian School

We use librariesPlease keep the libraries open. We use it all the time!

If you close the libraries, we would have to buy books at the book store. I usually check out 10 books. Sometimes they have fun contests. &

8212; Nathan Moir, age 8, Jacksonville, third-grade student at Grace Christian School

Libraries still vitalSome people say that libraries are outmoded because of the Internet. As a frequent user of both the Internet and books, I say we still need libraries.

The Internet is like the reference room: news, encyclopedias, maps, etc. It is valuable for finding the most basic information and for revealing other sources, which often turn out to be books.

It's quite possible that someday the contents of libraries will be available online, but very little of this material has been digitized so far. When it is, the material will still have to be paid for; otherwise, how will it ever be generated and distributed? Besides, who wants to read Harry Potter or "Guns, Germs and Steel" on their laptop? Not to mention the social benefits of the children's room. Or the rooms where citizens can meet for a small fee.

A library, like a school, is a real public place (not a virtual reality) where real people come in the pursuit of knowledge. Without its library, I believe the community begins to fray in ways that are both obvious and not so obvious. Someday we may no longer need libraries, but now we do. &

8212; Shoshanah Dubiner, Ashland

Keep libraries openThe feel of a book in your hands, the smell of the pages, the hook of an opening paragraph, the incredible intimacy of it all.

Believing that computers will replace books and libraries conjures up dismal images of "Brave New World." Only someone who doesn't know the joy of opening a real book could imagine such a bleak future.

Keep our libraries open for everyone, even for the Philistines. There's always hope. Call your local library; see what you can do. &

8212; Marle Jandreau, Ashland

A true heroAt a time when a number of important words are losing their meaning, Wesley Autrey, a New York City construction worker, demonstrated the true meaning of "hero."

Unlike George W. Bush's diluted use of the word to describe the pilots of a U.S. spy plane forced to make emergency landing in China in 2001, Mr. Autrey put his life on the line to save the life of a young man who had fallen on the tracks in front of an on coming subway train. The military pilots where saving their own lives; Mr. Autrey acted to save the life of another human being.

The word "hero" is not the only word that Bush, his administration and fellow conservatives have distorted. Consider the words "terror," "terrorism" and "terrorist." Bush declares war on a concept and an emotion (terror); the administration declares the destruction of private property by environmental extremists an act of terrorism rather than a crime as is traditionally the case; and Bush's first Secretary of Education, Roderick Page, referred to members of the National Education Association (teachers union) as terrorists.

It seems to me that Bush and his supporters could learn a thing or two from Wesley Autrey. &

8212; Bruce Evans, Talent

Closing the gapI applaud the Hispanic Academic Outreach volunteer mentor program in the Medford School District &

8212; ("Mentors make the difference," Jan. 9).

Helping Hispanic students focus on the prerequisites for high school graduation and the preparations for college and the world beyond, we come one step closer to closing the achievement gap in our state. By narrowing that achievement gap, we ensure that each and every child is given the best chance to succeed.

I commend the volunteers who are investing their time and attention to Medford's high school students. &

8212; Susan Castillo, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Salem

Time for new leadershipWorking in close partnership with allies worldwide, America could take the lead in a tough, smart, carefully targeted campaign against international terrorism. But we can't do it now because we're bogged down in the quagmire of Iraq &

8212; a deadly debacle that is the result of the worst foreign policy mistake in recent American history. It seems there is no end in sight. Why? Because you can't fix a problem if you won't admit that you made a mistake in the first place.

Therefore, he who will never admit to a mistake must go. Only then can we extricate ourselves from Iraq and start forging a cost-effective, reality-based campaign to halt terrorism.

Yes, it's time for Bush and Cheney to be impeached and convicted, simultaneously. I suggest that afterward President Nancy Pelosi appoint Colin Powell as her vice president and then resign the presidency. President Powell would then appoint former Senate leader Tom Daschle as his vice president. (I think that's cool with the Constitution.) Would Sen. Gordon Smith accept that final outcome? Or would he vote to keep Bush-Cheney on the job for two more years? &

8212; Bruce Borgerson, Ashland

Do the right thingRecently, a local teenage girl found a considerable amount of cash rolled in a rubber band and returned the money to the owner because it was the right thing to do. A New York construction worker risking his own life threw himself on a man who fell in front of an approaching subway train to save him because it was the right thing to do. Oprah is giving her considerable wealth to build a school for poor underprivileged African girls to give them opportunities they wouldn't have because it was the right thing to do.

Lately, the media reported a CEO of a large national corporation was fired. His poor leadership caused the company stock to go down considerably. Because of his greed and manipulation, he was able to walk away with $210 million. Will he do the right thing with that vast wealth?

Our old Congress didn't do the right thing with the American people. Will the new Congress? Bush, do the right thing and bring our military home and stop the war now. &

8212; Bruce Trowbridge, Ashland

Advocacy Center says thanksThe staff at the Children's Advocacy Center wishes to thank the hundreds of people who made this a joyful season for so many. Through the response to the Light One Candle story and the hundreds of gifts of money sent and toys brought in, we were able to provide a complete Christmas for 144 children and their families in addition to many of our kind donors who adopted families as well.

During a time when the hearts of people are fearful and mistrustful and a sense that "evil abounds" prevails, this community has once again proven that wrong. There is good in the world. There is hope as long as one person cares enough to do anything at all.

Through the kind donations of love we believe that more children will be safe this year. That is our wish. That is our prayer. Working together, it will be a reality. --Marlene Mish, executive director, Jackson County Children's Advocacy Center

Beware invention companiesI applied for a patent on an invention. It is a multi-purpose machine that works as a motorcycle, four-wheel all-terrain vehicle, jet ski or snowmobile. I have worked on this idea for eight years.

In that time I have contacted many invention submission companies. If you have an idea, please contact a patent attorney and see if it can be protected. I found mine in Medford.

The United States Patent & Trademark Office has a Web site that has complaints filed against the invention firms. People have lost their life's savings and their homes because of these companies. And they are still in business.

I designed my machine to take me for a ride, not so that these companies can. I want it to be built in the Rogue Valley, we need the jobs.

It cost me $100 to consult my attorney, the best money I ever spent. The invention companies want money up front, and you will still have to get a patent attorney to protect your idea. So please be careful. &

8212; Zeke Reynolds, Grants Pass

Ad's point elusiveSo Methford &

8212; uh, Medford &

8212; doesn't like its image as Meth Capital of Oregon. And why haven't area advertisers picked up on this? Should I have been surprised to see Sunday's Circuit City ad offering a "free syringe pen" with the movie "Crank"? Other stores advertised this movie for sale but without stooping to this morally and socially contemptible tactic.

One can read almost daily of loved ones lost to the drug; children born addicted, crimes committed against society, rapes, murders, stolen identities and property, etc. Although according to the reviews of "Crank" it is not about meth use, the name alone implies certain things; add to that this advertising gimmick and it spells irresponsible!

I guess I failed to see the point. &

8212; John Jordan, Gold Hill

editor's note: We usually maintain a rule against running poetry in letters to the editor. But in this case, we couldn't help ourselves and must make an exception. The following was written in response to Bill Varble's Dec. 31 column:

Ode to Bill VarbleOh Varble, Bill Varble

Bush-basher supreme

Your columns consistently

Seek to demean

The man in the White House

And those who advise him

Why must you always try to chastise them?

Oh Garble, Bill Garble

With fiendish delight

You use your computer

To pour out your spite

On Rummy and Bush, Cheney and Karl.

No Republican's safe

From your scribble and snarl.

Oh Burble, Bill Burble

Explain if you will

Why only Republicans

Give you a chill.

When it come to the Dems

You never attack

A Hillary, Edwards, Kerry or Barack.

Oh Gurgle, Bill Gurgle

Please spare us your slant

On matters political

Or, if you cant,

Please just review plays.

I don't know what's worse

Your liberal bias or your terrible verse. &

8212; Joann Blair, Ashland

Stay engaged with ski plan

There may be some feeling on the Ashland City Council to expedite a transfer of the Special Use Permit to the Mount Ashland Association to "get it off our table" so that we can get on to "real business." Many hours in public and in private have been spent investigating the ski area and debating the city's relationship to it.

This would be a mistake. The council's work and staff and citizen work up to this point is beginning to bear fruit.

The many hours of public scrutiny and discussion of the ski operation, its relation to the city and environmental and financial implications have shown clearly the continuing need to stay in a positive, guiding relationship to the Mount Ashland Association.

Our water supply is truly one of the most fundamental, and valuable (expensive to fix or augment) assets that the council can protect, safeguard and pass along to the next generation of Ashlanders.

The critical details for improving/maintaining the ski area &

8212; financial, environmental &

8212; as well as an enforceable, cooperative agreement with Mount Ashland for long-term monitoring and environmental guidance have not yet been worked out.

I urge the Ashland City Council to stay engaged with Mount Ashland. &

8212; Andy Bayliss, Ashland

Walker is rightI wanted to thank County Commissioner Jack Walker for his comments regarding our timber resources and how we could use them to pay for services needed throughout the state.

For those that are opposed to such ventures, it simply would take a drive from Crater Lake to Bend or elsewhere in the state to see what a sustainable resource we have! What a shame it is to see old-growth or crowded timber sitting "dormant," simply because environmentalists believe we are destroying our forests through harvesting.

There is a responsible and balanced way to use this valuable resource to our advantage, and there are many Native Americans who have been in the timber industry for years. Why doesn't someone investigate through their years of reforestation experience how we can once again implement such a plan? Who would argue with the natives of this area when it comes to environmentalism?

I look over our vast forests with great respect, and am grateful we have such beauty. However, it certainly is a shame to see this magnificent resource being devastated due to crowding, old growth and/or fire, or worse, irresponsible environmentalism. &

8212; Laura Gallo-Hadley, Medford