Letters to the editor, April 16

Celebrate 10 years of Ashland's CERT

The April 11 article by Vickie Aldous, "City officials propose reduced budget," warns of cuts to the Ashland Fire Department and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Since the flood of '97, which spurred the formation of CERT in our city, more than 200 community members have been trained in emergency response, and several neighborhoods here and in nearby towns have participated in Map Your Neighborhood get-togethers that teach people how to prepare their homes and families to get through a disaster such as a fire, flood or earthquake.

A worse disaster would be to dismantle all the years of planning and training that have gone into community preparedness.

CERT is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. with a party at Fire Station 1 on Siskiyou Boulevard. That'll be a great opportunity to learn more about CERT and understand the role you and your neighbors can play in a future worst-case scenario in our city.

Valerie and Edeltraud Muroki


Suggestion for fixing sign code

Rather than continuing the current excruciatingly convoluted process for determining the legal status of stuffed animals and figures on Ashland's downtown sidewalks, how about simplifying this process as follows:

  • Create a brief questionnaire for Ashland's visitors and residents to determine whether they are for or against altering the previous practice;
  • Distribute the questionnaire to visitors via handout copies available in all the local businesses and to residents via an enclosure with their utility bills;
  • Evaluate the results at the end of a designated period (i.e. Oregon Shakespeare Festival's high season); and
  • Proceed accordingly.

In this way, an issue which is almost embarrassing on its face — to say nothing of its negative economic impact on the business community — could be resolved and the city, along with all the good people who labor on its behalf, could turn their attention to the real priority matters that confront our community.

Dee Decker


Art shouldn't be regulated as signs

The committee charged to propose changes in Ashland's sign code was burdened by an unfortunate and incorrect premise. Namely, that art, both fine and folk, can be regulated in the same manner as commercial business signs, which are designed for advertising and information.

They have fulfilled the charge to the latter, but the city's needs for outdoor visual art are sadly neglected by the proposed new code.

I wonder if the words: "charm," "whimsy," "unique" or "creative" ever came up in the committee discussions. The size of Alfredo the waiter is in appropriate proportion to his site, but he doesn't fit the sign code measurements. I'm sure the beautiful, sacred carving dedicated to the native Americans is larger than Alfredo. How does it fit with the sign code? And does it look like a sign to you? Neither does Alfredo to me, nor the bear, the giraffe nor the lions.

We need to ask: Does an art piece add to the charm, attractiveness and history of our city? Does it actually obstruct the sidewalk? Does it have adequate space? These things cannot be regulated by a single code, particularly by one that does not speak to artistic uniqueness.

I propose, therefore, that a separate set of guidelines be set up for art by a commission of artists, and the new sign code apply only to commercial advertising and information.

Paris would look stripped naked, if its art were required to meet Ashland's proposed new sign code!

Nancy McLeod


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