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Environmentalists work to protect fish; farmers grow food. And they have much in common: Farmers like to fish and environmentalists like to eat.

SOREC serves many diverse interests: woodland preservationists, production agriculturists, home gardeners, seniors' health, livestock, hay, 4-H, viticulture and small farms. This is the heart of the land-grant university Extension we need in our own backyard. Ask a plant clinic volunteer about your garden or contact the entomologist and learn the safest technologies in dealing with insect pests or another specialist about better ways to conserve water or another about the least toxic methods for ridding your property of noxious weeds. SOREC is a valuable asset to the commercial agriculture industry but we all benefit and enjoy the green open space farms and orchards provide. We often feel helpless watching our communities slip away piece by piece. Don't let that happen with our own Extension Center. — Bill Eckart, Phoenix, former executive director, Fruit Growers League of Jackson County and husband to an OSU Master Gardener, class of 2004

Exactly which Republicans does Mr. Van Horn think are trying to "discredit" Alan Bates (April 3)? Bates does that well enough all by himself.

Just look at his record: completely ineffective, but always saying what people want to hear. In case you haven't noticed, his legislation has not increased the number of insured and his Cover Oregon website not only does not work but now is the subject of a federal investigation. It takes doctors, not insurance companies, to secure access to medical care.

I take exception to Mr. Van Horn's comments about veterans. I would like to remind him that the retired military officer to whom he refers served his country honorably, and in doing so, made significant sacrifices in order to make this a safer nation. A statement such as his quickly raises the ire of the men and women who loyally served their country. — Ted Sockman, Korean War veteran, Ashland

When I was in the sixth grade on the Big Island of Hawaii, I went to a tiny school consisting of two rooms and grades K-9.

The school was remote, on a North Kona ranch called Puuwaawaa. There was no library at the school or nearby. But, there was a Bookmobile that came to the school once a month.

I was captivated! Never will I forget walking into that old white van and finding books of all kinds, from floor to ceiling, and I could take my pick of whatever a sixth-grader would choose. And they were free!

I cannot imagine a place without libraries, so I hope everyone will support the bond measure that would set up Jackson County Library District. The district would provide permanent funding for library services and would prevent reduction in hours, services, activities, and above all, the threat of closures into the future. — Karen Foster, Medford

There's one thing for sure that money can't buy and that's the votes of Oregonians! The spirit of freedom and the Wild West is alive and well in the Rogue Valley. Protecting our families, farms, freedom, food security and future from foreign interests and international chemical corporations is priceless.

The tactics of pouring tons of money into false advertising to stop a yes vote on Measure 15-119 won't work in Southern Oregon. What we value is our sovereignty, our food security and our way of life, which is based on beautiful scenery, clean air and water, healthy foods and recreation and great living for visitors and residents alike.

It's commonly known in our region, with its agricultural heritage and identity, that monitoring compliance of blighted pear orchards in the past and present and enforcing a ban on genetically modified crops is an insignificant or nonexistent expense to the county. — Catie Faryl, Phoenix