Warm water fish, reptiles and plant life will die if Gold Ray Dam is removed. Species include bass, crappie, perch, turtles, frogs, beaver, muskrats, etc. The fish counting station so vital to the hatchery will be eliminated.

If the dam is so harmful to returning adult fish, why allow fishing above the dam?

According to an ODFW biologist, more fry released from the hatchery are washed over the dam and perish than returning adults going up the ladder. The ODFW fish count reports show fish runs fluctuate in numbers by over 10,000 fish. The biologist said they don't know why, but it's normal and the runs are in pretty good shape right now. The fall chinook salmon run in 1999 was 3,540; in 2001, 13,606; 2003, 24,857; in 2005, 8,615 fish. Easy solution: Truck the fry below the dam. The county buys liability insurance. Big returns. Help fish runs, save the counting station, save the dam and save the sanctuary home to so many birds and wildlife.

Grant money is still taxes. Special interest groups, kayakers, rafters and gold dredgers already have miles of river. — Ron Garringer, Central Point

I love these people who rant and rave about a government-controlled health plan. Do you see them refusing Medicare or returning their Social Security check or veterans benefits? Or maybe refusing other government-controlled services such as police and fire protection, driving on paved roads, or sending their children to public schools?

Who do they think controls the military, a private corporation? Well, maybe sometimes. At least with government-controlled services you can ask for the light of day to shine on secrecy. But call your private health insurance company and ask the name and phone number of the person who denied your doctor's suggested procedure in an operation, a procedure for which you are now being billed. They will never reveal the name or number of that individual nor why that procedure was denied, nor do they care to respond. It's all about premiums and the bottom line, not the health and well-being of you and your children. — Ralph Bowman, Central Point

Hugs becoming abuse, what's America coming to? I was appalled, years ago, when I read about a young girl who, falling into a friend's arms upon hearing of her boyfriend's death, was expelled.

Had it not been for hugs from teachers, I wouldn't have survived recess. When teased on the way home I'd get a hug from the crossing guard lady. If I got in "need," I'd just find a mom to hug me.

Lots of "man hugs" (handshakes, chest bumps, back-slaps) growing up and beyond. Today's germ phobias limit us to "hospital hugs" (elbow-to-shoulder arm bump).

It's all good. Any body contact enables momentary "body field" awareness. Which reminds us ... we're all connected. — Kevin Murtha, Trail

  • People no longer being cut from insurance coverage because they're sick.
  • Rebates to seniors hit by the Medicare Part D "donut hole" for prescription drugs.
  • Adult children being allowed to stay on their on parents' insurance policies until age 27.
  • No pre-existing condition denials by insurers and no annual or lifetime limits by insurers.
  • Tax credits of up to 35 percent for small businesses when they provide insurance.

Looks like we're joining Canada and the EU — and everyone else in the world. American conservatives are livid — over what? Cost? What about the cost of Wall Street and the war(s)? Why weren't they equally livid about those? And, saying that offering health care is an "attack on our way of life"? Isn't not offering heath care a potential "attack on our lives"? Ask someone who has cancer ... and no medical coverage. — Robert Ogle, Medford

Mail Tribune contributor John Darling, the darling of all good Southern Oregon liberals, got a little too carried away with his front page gushing over the passage of health care "reform" in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"The historic and controversial health care plan passed the House Sunday night on a 219-212 party-line vote." (March 23). Sorry, John, the vote was historic, but not for the reason you cited. In the history of our republic, no legislation so far-reaching in consequences as this one has ever passed with bipartisan opposition. Check your facts, Darling and editors. Thirty-four Democrats joined all Republicans in "nay" votes.

Hardly party-line, was it? — Steve Warga, Rogue River

"Greg Walden voted no because health plan too expensive," read the header of the Mail Tribune. Sounds like conscience rather than the lockstep of "no." Well, maybe. He is an Oregon man, and by association he must be a good man, or was when we first sent him to corruption city.

Well, he should be a good man now and tell his Republican brethren to wake up and start channeling the grand old party of my youth, the party of Eisenhower, and even the party of Nixon.

Nixon I never liked, but I don't recall the party being filled with vitriolic dissonance back then. The dissonance came with Reagan, and the vitriol with Gingrinch.

So it has been tried, and found to be disastrous. It is now time to go back and find the salvageable ideals of a "loyal" opposition, which would contribute mightily to the betterment of our desperately needed government. — Jerry Nutter, Ashland

I'm just curious to know whether the left hand and right hand at the Census Bureau ever communicate. I got my census form about March 15.

It requires me to report all individuals who are living in my home on April 1. On March 22, I got a card reminding me that, if I hadn't already sent in my form, I had better get to it promptly! Let's see now, it's not April 1 yet. How can I be absolutely sure that no one else will be living in my home by then?

Fortunately, I don't have to swear under oath that my information submitted is accurate, so I guess I'll go ahead and fill it out. But what the heck ... why ask for future information and then demand that we answer before the date given? It doesn't make any sense! Oh, that's right ... it's the government asking. — Jim Andrews, Medford

Let the historical record show that on the day following the House of Representatives' shocking, evil, communistic decision to destroy our American freedoms and enslave us all by expanding health insurance coverage to 95 percent of U.S. citizens, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained .41 percent, the S&P 500 gained .51 percent, and the Nasdaq jumped .88 percent!

Even most insurance companies, who can no longer screw people over because they file a claim or because of "pre-existing conditions" such as acne or a woman's giving birth by C-section, saw their share values rise.

Does this mean that as a country we can do the morally right thing plus have a positive effect on the economy? Shudder the thought, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and that disgusting Texas congressman who called Bart Stupak, of all people in the world, a "baby killer." — Craig Callaway, Eagle Point

To all my fellow citizens who receive unearned benefits or funds from government:

Whereas, your needs do not impose a financial obligation on me; whereas, since you lack the moral and legal authority to threaten force and violence to take my money because you need it, you lack the authority to transfer that function to government via elected officials.

Therefore, I expressly revoke any perception that I voluntarily submit to this tyranny. Be it declared, that any personal property extracted from me by tax, assessment, fee, privilege, license or other scheme — the use of which is to provide unearned benefits to others — is not voluntary and my compliance is coerced by governmental threat of force and violence. Moreover, to those who solicit or accept this "loot" I say: Shame on you.

Charity is divine, but I reserve the right to choose to whom, under what circumstances and in what amounts I contribute. — H. Ted Watkins, Eagle Point

Yippee! Change has come!

For-profit insurance still rules, still can afford more lobbyists than we have Congress members, still can pay its executives wages that look like lottery winnings, still complicates every medical procedure with a tsunami of expensive, finicky paperwork, still saddles small businesses with an enormous burden to provide third-rate coverage, still rewards big business with a tax-deductible bargaining position that employees might "go postal" if they lose, still makes the uninsured pay about twice as much, still hands the elderly over to Medicare, and still has doctors and patients lined up, hats in hand, saying "Please honor your policy," still the best system in the world — for profit.

But now, the uninsured must buy in and, for those too poor, we all get to chip in to those profits.

We needed health care reform, we got health extortion reinforcement. But considering all they spend protecting their position, what did you expect? — Doug McLeod, Medford

It is refreshing to have one of our politicians make decisions based on the essentials of the community as opposed to a popular concept for special interest groups. Jack Walker makes hard decisions in the best interest of our county.

The long-term effects of the Highway 62 bypass is an example. Who is pushing the county to get this project started? Is it construction groups, property holders of proposed right-of-way acquisition, or commuters?

How many businesses will be affected? Jack Walker will identify and prioritize in the best interest of the community. First responders to emergencies, safety issues, for example, would be examples of high priority. We all could make a list of what is the most important. Probably, our top 10 would be quite similar.

Condemning or praising Jack Walker on a single issue is inappropriate. Let the track record speak for itself. Is fiscal responsibility being addressed? — Don Ellsworth, Ashland

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