In the past 10 years, we''ve received hundreds of letters to the editor. Many have been from several dedicated writers, who put pen to paper regularly to right wrongs and make their opinions known. Here, we put faces to the names and profile some of our frequent letter writers. Be assured, we do read all your letters, although we cannot print them all, and we appreciate the praise and criticisms.

Mel Vercoe, 82

Marina Retired, Construction


Peeve: "Well, internationally, we''re gonna lose the country. In Marina, we''re going to lose our water supply and no one seems to care. I''m a firm critic of irresponsible government and you don''t have to go to Washington D.C."

Local Hero: "I can''t think of any. You get harder to please when you get old. My national hero is Hillary Clinton."

Strange response to a letter: "Back in ''65, I rented to two schoolteachers and we talked about how we needed more classrooms and how schools were sitting empty all summer. I wrote a letter to the [San Jose] Mercury I think, proposing we get a system to use those buildings year ''round. The schoolteachers didn''t like it, but Pat Brown saw it and he was running for governor, and he made it an issue in the campaign. A few years later, they did it."

Fave song: "Something by Mario Lanza. No...Rachmaninov, "Moonlight Sonata."

What''s the value of writing letters?: "I haven''t done much in my life but if I can get something across to people, make them notice things, then I''ve done good."

Who or what would you like to get rid of in MoCo?: "The Board of Supervisors...or the Marina City Council. The major reason is the water problem in Marina, I''ve tried to get them to see it. People walk around with glasses with dollar signs on them."

Peter Hughes, 50

Pacific Grove Photographer


Peeve: "The art scene. Generally there is poor quality on the Peninsula. We have a great heritage, with Weston, Ansel Adams, and writers, but it is limited to ''polite decoration'' now."

Local Hero: "My wife [Denise Sallee]. Her bookstore, Raven in the Grove, was informative and a good influence on me and I admire her women''s rights work."

Strange response to a letter: "I got a good response to the HIV question. A Herald editor called about it."

Fave song: "Classical music, Beethoven."

What''s the value of writing letters?: "It''s very important to have public input. The press doesn''t always cover all sides. It''s my favorite part of the paper."

Who or what would you like to get rid of in MoCo?: "The developers and golf courses who see the Peninsula as something they can exploit."

Jeffrey Middlebrook, 48

Carmel Plumbing contractor


Peeve: "Lots, but mostly I get irritated when people think from dogmatic principals. Also, people who lack an off-the-wall sense of humor."

Local Hero: "Generally I don''t have heroes. I admire people''s accomplishments, not personalities. Bob Dylan of the ''60s, I guess."

Strange response to a letter: "I get wary when people say they like my letters. I can deal with people who hate them. I have no ego attached to my letters."

Fave song: "''Visions of Johanna,'' by Bob Dylan. It''s cryptic and metaphysical."

What''s the value of writing letters?: "Personally, it helps you vent. Socially, it can needle people, to call attention to things that need it. I don''t think my letters change things. We ''slaves'' have little access to the democratic process but that''s a way to do it. More people should write."

Who or what would you like to get rid of in MoCo?: "I''d like to curtail the pressure to overdevelop the Monterey Peninsula."

Nancy Iversen, 62

Salinas Retired urban planner


Peeve: Urban planning and development issues, particularly in Salinas, and the county''s badly outdated General Plan. Iversen is ticked off by "the parochialism of the Monterey Peninsula. They don''t want to recognize Salinas-any problems in Salinas are ''our'' problems. They just aren''t aware that this is an entire county. They''re in for a rude shock."

Local Hero: Attorney Helen McCraig, "who challenges things in the judicial and prison systems. She goes to the prison every week, helping women prisoners. There''s a home in Salinas named after her, for women with children under house arrest."

Fave song: Not a song, but the annual San Jose Jazz Festival.

Pet Idea: Combine Seaside, Sand City and Del Rey Oaks into "Sand Sea Oaks, the city of the future." It would have "the megaboxes and tax income from Sand City, the little independent businesses and homes and churches from Seaside, and the beautiful valley, trees and state highway of Del Rey Oaks."

Who or what would you like to get rid of in MoCo? The oversized ads on the backs of MST buses. "I hate to get stuck behind one on Highway 68, looking at the same ad for 14 miles. It''s insulting, to me and to the people who ride the bus. They don''t want to be riding a billboard."

Bill Baltezar, 74

Salinas; Retired dental technician and watercolor artist


Peeve: The number of unsolved murders in Salinas. "One or two people get killed every week, and no one gives a damn. Gangs, hate crimes, drive-by shootings-these kids are getting away with murder. We need to find these people and put them away. But the sheriff and police departments couldn''t track an elephant with a bloody nose in 10 feet of snow."

Fave song: "Summit Ridge Drive," by Artie Shaw. "I used to dance to that back in the ''40s."

Local Hero: Salinas Mayor Alan Styles. "He takes a lot of flak, but he''s done a lot of good."

Pet Idea: A cemetery for combat veterans on 10 acres of former Fort Ord land overlooking Monterey Bay, to be called "Warriors'' Rest."

Who/what would you like to get rid of in MoCo? "All those traffic lights in Salinas."

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