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Local editorials

A breath of fresh air New laws restricting meth-making chemicals make a dent in lab busts

Good news on the methamphetamine front: Tough new state laws restricting access to cold pills in retail stores have dramatically reduced the number of clandestine meth labs seized by police locally and statewide.

That's cause for celebration, but the scourge of methamphetamine use continues unabated. Although meth labs threaten public health, and eliminating them is a good thing, even reducing the number of local labs to zero wouldn't make a dent in the larger problem.

Authorities estimate 90 percent of the methamphetamine sold and consumed in the Rogue Valley comes from Mexico or so-called super-labs in California. The reality is, as long as there are users, there will be suppliers in faraway places that local law enforcement cannot touch.

Efforts to combat the meth epidemic here and across Oregon have been encouraging. Task forces comprising community leaders, social service agencies and law enforcement are reaching out to families ravaged by meth addiction.

Armed with grants from the Oregon Community Foundation and funding from the Jackson County Health and Human Services Department, local agencies are educating public school students about meth's dangers, providing intensive addiction treatment and recovery services and strengthening the county's pioneering Family Court program that works to keep families together as they move through the justice system.

The task is daunting. By one estimate, Oregon's rate of meth use is six times the national average.

— Meth use puts enormous pressure on jails, courts, social services and schools. The thefts, burglaries, robberies and assaults committed by users trying to feed their habits or acting out under the drug's effects put the entire community at risk.

Fixing the problem will take a long time and a great deal of money. The grants mentioned here run out next summer, and the Legislature doesn't convene again until 2007.

One glimmer of hope is that the spreading scourge of meth is lapping at the eastern seaboard, attracting the attention of congressional members from populous states. Federal money focused on education, treatment and recovery will be necessary if the problem is ever to be solved.

Whether we can afford to fight this battle is not in question. We can't afford not to.

A lasting legacy Death did not end Professor Leon Charles Mulling's dedication to students. Mulling retired from Southern Oregon University in 1979 after 35 years, but his calling will continue thanks to his &

36;2 million donation.

Signing on as an English instructor at Southern Oregon College of Education in 1946, Mulling expanded his career to include teaching speech and theater and acting as adviser on The Siskiyou student newspaper. Mulling's career was distinguished by heading the Speech and Theater Department for 13 years, receiving the Alumni Association's Outstanding Service Award and the President's Medal for his long years of service.

A bachelor with no children, Mulling referred to his students as his boys and girls, and he bequeathed his estate to his heirs, the young people who will study at SOU in the future. The largest donation ever received by the college, the funds will support an endowment for seven scholarships in the School of Arts and Letters.

Mulling's dedication to his school and to its students will live on through the boys and girls whose lives will be enriched by his generosity.