Here we are approaching a fire season that may be one of record and fireworks went on sale June 23. Northern California is already burning with several fires caused by lightning.

I truly hope the people who live in the forest and grassy hills around the valley have their insurance paid in full and have the water buckets ready ... especially you folks in Ashland. You shouldn't leave your home on vacation until the fall rains start because when you return your home may be ashes.

It is unfortunate that our leaders in the valley ignore the issue and don't have the guts to ban fireworks. To allow people to buy fireworks, then let them set them off at will is insane in a valley that is surrounded by dry grass and forest. It just takes one idiot.

Ban fireworks in Jackson County and let the cities put on a safe and sane fireworks display to commemorate our country's independence. It's the right thing to do. — Randy Miltier, Phoenix

Well, I see that the Republican attack machine has received its marching orders as the vicious letters to the editor have started.

They know that the only way to get a third Bush term with John McCain is to smear his opponent. Their lies won't work this time because "change" is on the agenda. — K. Van Horn, Medford

Do the voters of Jackson County think the sheriff and county commissioners deserve an 18 percent or 26 percent (respectively) raise in one year?

I know every working person would like to have that kind of raise, but I think one to cover the cost of living would be adequate. The original plan was to phase in the pay increase over a three-year time frame, but someone wanted all the money at one time. Who exactly was the person that made that decision?

A successful business enterprise would not come close to considering such an exorbitant (and out of line) pay increase during economic hard times. Now that we know federal timber funds are soon to be a thing of the past, prudent use of existing (and "rainy day") funds should be the only choice.

As taxpayers, we are the employers of these elected officials, and should have some say in determining their pay raises. What will it take to reverse this ill-advised direction? — B. Laber, Ashland

If you're an animal lover and a woman of a certain age, please be aware that some menopausal medications are made from horse urine.

Similar to the puppy mill industry, the Pregnant Mares' Urine (PMU) industry is built around animal abuse. Female horses are held in small stalls, unable to turn around, for most of their 11-month pregnancy while hooked up to a urine collection cup.

As soon as their foal is born, it's taken away from the mother and she is immediately impregnated to continue the urine collection cycle. The result is hundreds of abused and discarded horses each year.

You do have a choice, however. To help eliminate this abuse, please ask your doctor about alternatives, including synthetic, plant-based and natural drugs.

You can also adopt a deserving horse at PMUrescue.org. — Beth Berghofer, Medford

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