Letters to the editor

Grizzlies should play at SOU

I wrote on this topic once before, but it seems to be time to do it again. Even if the money could be raised, it seems unwise to spend $800,000 for artificial turf on the totally outmoded Walter A. Phillips Ashland High School football field. The lights, the press box, and the grandstand are direct from the '50s. If you can't get in the grandstand there are no other decent seats on the home side. We have always sat on the visitor's side, and it seems that more and more Ashland people are over there with us.

Just a few blocks down the street is the SOU stadium featuring artificial turf, a really excellent grandstand that would seat all the home rooters with good lights and concession areas. SOU plays three or four games per year there, all on Saturday. It seems logical that they would be very willing to allow the Grizzlies to play there on Friday nights.

Apparently some faction in the community feels that this would not constitute a home game. When you can dress and undress in your own locker room and take a bus a few blocks to the field located in your town, it is a home game. The present field could be used for soccer, JV football and physical education classes, but the amount of money required to maintain it for those purposes would be much less.

I am a former high school football coach, and if there was money to rebuild the entire facility, I would support artificial turf. I suspect the health hazards are minimal and it would be great to have a field that never had to be marked, fertilized, or mowed. On any Friday the field could be used for physical education classes, marching band practice (if we had one) and a game that night.

Someday, maybe. Until then, play at SOU.

Walt Marsh


Concerned about dense development

The Parks Commission's proposed development of Westwood Park is one of those backyard issues that is also a concern for the larger community.

I became aware of the wooded hills adjacent to Westwood Park in 1959 when, from my family home in Phoenix, I could see flames from the wildfire that scoured the hills of Ashland's watershed, above Strawberry Lane and Westwood Street.

My stepfather, Andy Wilson, bought the property at the end of Strawberry Lane in 1946. He said that before the "Fire of '59" he could ride his horses up into the hills in any direction because the thick forest canopy kept the ground clear of underbrush. The fire destroyed all of the mature trees. Manzanita grew so thick the hills became impenetrable.

Since 1964, I have witnessed the slow recovery of this area and its wildlife from the ravages of the 1959 fire. It has been 50 years and now mature madrone and oaks are bringing shade to the ground. The dense manzanita is finally beginning to thin out. In another 50 years, these hills may begin to look like they once did.

Ashland city leaders are on record, going back decades, voicing concern about development just outside the city limits at the interface with the wooded hills above town.

This concern about housing density is valid on both sides of the interface. Development at this important interface will increase the risk of wildfire in the hills above Ashland and it will degrade an important wildlife corridor.

Joseph Thompson


Elderly Talent couple needs help after fire

As you are probably aware, there was a house fire in Talent on Sept. 1. Marguerite and I are neighbors of the couple whose house caught fire. The house and all of its contents were a total loss.

The couple, R.C. and Wanda Thompson, have lived on Alpine Way in Talent since they built the house in 1974. He is 80 years old and she is 78 years old. They both grew up in Oklahoma during the depression.

They are very proud, but very gentle people. He served in the U.S. Air Force until he retired. Their ability to pick up and start over again is limited. They have truly lost everything. All of their household furnishings and personal effects were destroyed. The building is a total loss.

They have temporarily relocated to a seniors community in Talent while they sort through the insurance issues. It is clear that the insurance coverage will be insufficient to take them back to where they were before the fire.

The neighbors got together and encouraged the family to open an account at the Umpqua Bank Branch in Talent for concerned citizens to make donations to help R.C. and Wanda get back on their feet again. The account was set up with the assistance of Tia Stratton, Branch Manager. She can answer any questions about the account and how to make donations. Her telephone number is 618-6809.

The immediate outpouring from neighbors reaffirms that the Rogue Valley is a very caring community. Donations in any amount that people can afford will be greatly appreciated.

Jim Schellentrager


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