It is wonderful that Jim Hutchens involved students in an outdoor project. And now that the beavers have arrived the story has changed; that it is one of us versus them and "one of us has to go."

It is wonderful that Jim Hutchens involved students in an outdoor project. And now that the beavers have arrived the story has changed; that it is one of us versus them and "one of us has to go."

By calling beavers "the biggest problem" and the saying that " "¦ they can go elsewhere to help create fish habitat" makes this a paradox. Isn't Bear Creek a fish habitat? Here is a perfect example of nature doing its job, as beavers are the master engineers of stream ecosystems. They are essential to the riparian landscape and should not be considered a pest.

How exciting would it be to let the beavers do their work and observe the fish habitat that they facilitate unfold in an urban setting? Students could be again involved in nature in its true essence by marking the changes that take place in favor of the fish. It doesn't take much research to know how important beavers are to the environment (in a good way). Go Beavers! — Katie Yasui, Medford

Give Medford School District teachers a raise as opposed to a cut in pay and benefits.

Teaching is a tough job that requires enormous skill. They are tasked with nurturing the growth of our most important asset, our children. They should be justly compensated.

During the 2011-2013 contract, the school district had 93 million dollars available to it. The teachers agreed to take a $7.2 million cut in salary and benefits to help cover what was a significant budget shortfall. At that time the school district told them that if more money became available, they would make an adjustment. The school district now has $101 million available.

The school district says it is offering the teachers a 3.22 percent pay increase. Not true. They are simply offering them more hours to work.

Additionally the district is asking the teachers to pay the 6 percent PERS fee that is currently being paid by the district. This all adds up to an increased workload and a 2.78 percent cut in salary and benefits.

Medford teachers have been moving backward instead of forward when it comes to pay, benefits and workload since 2005. It's time to reverse that trend. — Robert Cambas, Medford

The subhead in the Aug. 23 Mail Tribune declares that "The Rogue Valley's Head Start program is dead center on Congress' sequestration chopping block."

The assertion is, of course, absolutely false; shame on you. Does even the most paranoid journalist or headline writer really believe the Congress has focused on the Rogue Valley program, as stated?

The across-the-board budget cuts of sequestration — originally proposed by the White House and signed into law by the president — apply under the law only to very broad federal budget categories. The Congress also offered to give the administration explicit authority to exempt high-priority programs such as Head Start; the administration refused. Head Start funds are being cut because the administration chooses to make sequestration harm as many people as possible rather than to exercise leadership and set spending priorities.

I am appalled that kids here and across the country will be denied Head Start because the administration sees needy children as political pawns and believes voters are stupid. I am equally appalled by those journalists who relentlessly hype partisan story lines with remarkable disregard both for the truth and for the Mail Tribune's readership. — Steve Wesche, Ashland

I can only conjecture that Steve Schulman has a vendetta against Mayor Bellah because he lost the city mayor election and was not chosen for the Phoenix city manager's job.

I have never seen the man stand before the City Council and complain about how the private and executive meetings were being conducted. It seems as though he wants to embarrass the mayor and council members by filing a complaint with the state.

He specifically filed a complaint against council member Carolyn Bartell accusing her of misuse of funds for the Phoenix Phestival without any proof. There were no charges filed against her. I call this character assassination. She has dedicated so much time to city of Phoenix.

I'm not condoning the past actions by the mayor but I know that he would not intentionally go against state ethics. He spends much energy in making the city a better place to live and is always willing to listen to others. What next, Mr. Schulman? — Louis Junghans, Phoenix

We recently read where the United States is planning to punish Mr. Assad for the death of hundreds of people in his nation by chemical weapons.

I'm sure all of you are as shocked and saddened as I am about this tragedy. But have we forgotten that the United Nations are the ones responsible for the retaliation?

We need to remember that our nation has to borrow 34 percent of the money we spend each month and that we are the greatest debtor nation on Earth. The last time we looked at the National Debt Clock it was almost $17 trillion and growing.

Does this sound like a nation that needs to get involved in another war? I'm sick and tired of these wars and foolish leaders who are responsible for the death of our young men and women and who spend our national treasure so easily. — Gordon DeVos, Medford

Strict regulations were passed in California to prevent the damage done by suction dredge mining. Do we need to have a population of 35 million before something is done to prevent similar damage in Oregon?

No, thanks to Sen. Alan Bates. Dr. Bates was instrumental in passing legislation to rein in abuse of our waterways by suction dredge mining. It has not been outlawed, but practical limits have been imposed (SB 838).

It is hard to see the damage from SDM. It disturbs the gravel that salmon and steelhead lay their eggs in. Insects live in the gravel and the fish feed on them. The mining machines churn up this gravel to try and extract gold from it.

There are increased conflicts with landowners, fishermen and rafters. The noisy machines set up just a few feet from shore at times. The miners often leave trash and debris behind when they move on.

SD miners have come to Oregon since their activities have been curtailed in California. Thank you to Senator Bates for stopping the destruction. — Carol Palmer, Medford

The Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation awarded $9,000 to Mediation Works Community Dispute Resolution Center for our services for young people.

Mediation Works is the nonprofit Center for Dispute Resolution of Southern Oregon. We are professional mediators, educators and volunteers dedicated to building safer, healthier communities through conflict resolution education and services.

Mediation Works' Youth Programs work with at-risk children involved with Juvenile Justice, with kids in K-12 schools to create safer learning environments through student bystander empowerment and bullying intervention education, and with families, offering mediation services for parent/teen conflict resolution.

Mediation Works wholeheartedly thanks the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation for its generous support. We recognize the tribe's long-standing commitment to helping children and young people in our region and we are proud to be included in this tradition. For more information about Mediation Works and our services, please visit us at — Deltra Ferguson, Medford