A letter on Sept. 23 claimed that on Sept. 12, 1 million ordinary Americans rallied in Washington, D.C. to protest President Obama's universal health care and his socialist policies.

Well, for the record, that was the "Tea Party," and the number of people was nowhere near 1 million, actually estimated to be between 60,000 and 75,000. Typically for the opposition, the photographs supposedly depicting this crowd have proven to have been taken at an unrelated event in 1997.

I believe those self-declared patriots were demonstrating selfishness and a complete lack of compassion for their fellow human beings, and that is what is very unpatriotic, and un-American. — Victor Rogers, Ashland

A recent campaign, called "Eat Locally," encourages folks to buy locally grown food. This provides fresh, better-tasting fruit, vegetables and meat. It also provides jobs and money to bolster the economy and greatly reduces the "carbon footprint" because of shortened transportation.

Let's expand that idea to involve "Build Locally." By using wood (one of the very few renewable construction materials) that is grown locally, we can create jobs and money for the economy and greatly reduce the carbon footprint. Sound wood retains carbon indefinitely. Trees left to burn and rot release previously stored carbon. Young forests quickly start storing carbon.

Amazingly, most environmentalists freely admit they live in wood-frame homes with wood floors and cabinets, have wood furniture and use copious amounts of paper goods. They hire hair-trigger lawyers to file endless lawsuits to prevent timber harvests in Southern Oregon and promote still more and bigger wilderness areas and national monuments. They prefer rotting wood over sound forest management but still use wood as long as it comes from southeastern states, Canada or even Russia. They leave a carbon footprint far larger than any left by Paul Bunyan! — Pat Clason, Medford

The city of Medford's plan to build a water park is a great idea, but: What about a facility that can provide aquatic use to the area all year round? The water park will probably only be operational during summer.

The Rogue Valley is home to over 200 competitive swimmers, many recreational lap swimmers, six to 10 high school swimming teams, three high-school and club water polo programs, as well as many citizens constantly looking for high-quality swimming instruction and programming.

The current plan is to build a water park with bond money — over $10 million — and a very nice indoor aquatics facility could be built for less than $2 million. It would only make sense to build a combination water park-indoor aquatic facility at the same time. Having an indoor facility would not only accommodate many of the previously mentioned programs, but also create income for the Medford economy by providing a facility that could host weekend-long swim meets, water polo tournaments and events. The great outdoor baseball, softball and soccer facilities already contribute a great amount of tourism to the area. Let's provide something great for both sides of our aquatics needs! — Tim Manley, Medford

Kudos to our firefighters in the Medford area.

Along with many others lining Viewpoint Drive at Foothill Road in east Medford, viewing just across Foothill Road, the fire flares and billowing smoke enveloping Roxy Ann, we witnessed first-hand the great plan and expertise of our fire departments and their workers. The many buckets of water dropped from helicopters and flown by expert pilots, and the flame-retardant drops, were unbelievably accurate.

These men and women certainly won my deepest respect. God bless you all! — C.L. Kelley, Medford

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