Letters at length, September 30

The greatest thing since sliced bread

One of the special highlights of our summer vacation was following the myriad of signs leading us to the Butte Creek Mill and general store in Eagle Point. We weren't real sure what to expect and were absolutely delighted to see a fantastic vision of labor and love by the owners, Bob and Debbie Russell. The Butte Creek Mill is the greatest thing since sliced bread!

Mr. Russell gave us a tour of the place. He's just as freely passionate and tireless describing the mill's history and operation now as ever. He fired up the mill machinery and — lo and behold! — it was a sight to be seen from 1872: pulleys and belts and wheels creaking, water moving, timbers trembling, wheel stones grinding and the flour dust flying. It was spectacular, a rare and precious historical gem brought alive before our very eyes.

We bought some of the many grains and flours produced by the mill's fine employees in the general store and took our lunch outside, sitting in the beautiful and quiet area near the creek. It is our understanding that the Russells hired some of the local youth to clear out the ever-present blackberry brambles on the hillside for this little park, which was no easy endeavor — along with the restoration of the working mill itself. It was a splendid place for an unplanned picnic, underneath the cool trees and grass on a warm and sunny afternoon. We were reminded of Jackson County's bountiful harvest and the local, high-quality and healthy foods you produce. The amount of hard work and effort it took to achieve this undertaking is astounding.

Afterward, upon returning home, we cooked up our "Old fashioned, thick style, rolled oats." We take our oats seriously. They were the finest oats we've had. Light and fluffy, a full and intact flavorful grain, not mealy or mushy like other oatmeal. An absolutely superior product!

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Russell and the employees and residents of Eagle Point, for a fine contribution toward living history, community and good health. This was truly amazing and inspiring.

Steve and Linda D'Agati

Eureka, Calif.

Cleaning up the 'facts' about Ashland's water

In the course of public discussion, it is often said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. In the current discussion about Ashland's water issues, there are "facts" reported that are actually misinformation.

In August, the Daily Tidings reported that irrigation usage in Lithia Park had been reduced by 80 percent. The truth was irrigation usage in Lithia Park was cut to 80 percent of normal, a reduction of 20 percent. This misinformation was a result of miscommunication between city staff members.

The city's water treatment plant started using Ashland canal water to supplement our watershed production in late August. On Sept. 16, the Tidings reported that we were using 1.3 million gallons a day of TID water. That amount now averages 1.8 million gallons a day, and the level of Reeder Reservoir has stabilized at 55 percent of capacity. On Sept. 22, the Tidings printed a letter stating "Our sole water supply, in the Ashland watershed, is a beautiful forested canyon."

Yes, it's a forested canyon.

Beautiful is opinion, but I would concur in this matter. Sole source?

That is misinformation. Read the paper or call Ashland Public Works.

Some Ashland restaurants are displaying information provided by the city and the Chamber of Commerce that states as fact, "Each glass of water requires another two glasses of water to wash and rinse the glass." Again, that is misinformation.

My many years of personal research into this matter lead me to the following conclusions. A full rack in our dish machine holds 36 glasses, which in our restaurant are 8-ounce or 12-ounce capacity.

The average diner drinks 1 pint, 16 ounces of water during the course of a meal. Our dish machine uses 1 1/2; gallons of water per cycle. Thirty-six pints equals 4 1/2; gallons. So it takes 1/3 of a glass of water to wash and rinse that water glass. The misinformation provided is off by a factor of 600 percent. More fact checking please.

Ron Roth


Who chooses a diner based on meals tax?

How many of us actually choose a restaurant based on whether or not we will have to pay a tax on our meal? For most people, dining out is a pleasant luxury. We consider the anticipated quality and variety of the food, the beverage selection, the service and the ambience of the restaurant's setting. The tax on the meal registers far down the list of considerations, or (as for us) not at all, and we're quite careful with our spending. Ashland's restaurants offer excellent choices and quality; they are certainly one of the prime reasons so many tourists enjoy vacationing in our fair town. If some Southern Oregon residents are put off by Ashland's food tax, there are many restaurants in surrounding areas. Few, however, offer the quality of those here.

We can understand why restaurant owners, after collecting the food tax from their customers, are reluctant to forward that 5 percent on to the city. It must seem like "theirs" for all the hard work they put into their businesses. If they never saw that revenue directly, likely it would seem a less painful bite. However, we are dubious about the results of recent "surveys" conducted by the restaurant association, indicating significant financial losses to their businesses and to Ashland's overall economy attributable to the food tax. Some of their claims and complaints remind us of the flap raised not long ago over the issue of banning smoking from most bars and restaurants.

Given the projected 60 percent increase in sewer fees that would accompany loss of that meals tax, we hope and trust that most Ashlanders will vote to continue the tax as a minor annoyance or inconvenience that is quite a normal part of life in most other places with stellar restaurants. Since visitors to Ashland account for significant water and sewer use during the tourist season, it seems only fair that they contribute to those costs.

John and Judy Kloetzel


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