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The Oregon Indian casinos had better take note.

A new airline, Allegiant, will offer reduced fares to Las Vegas. It seems that the dissatisfaction with the quality of the gambling in Oregon is beginning to raise the specter of outside competition.

A man told the story of Wild Bill Hickok's gambling chances in Deadwood, S.D., which were diminishing. He asked Bill why he continued to gamble at the saloon when they both knew the game was crooked. Bill responded with, "Well, It's the only game in town."

The Indians had better realize that they are no longer "the only game in town." — Ed Scanlin, Medford

Everyone in this valley (not just Qwest), that is covered by United Health Insurance will be "out of network." It will become a financial hardship for everyone. Since there aren't any "in network" physicians anymore, after meeting our deductible we will all have to pay the 20 percent balance of usual and customary fee and then we will have to pay the remaining balance between the usual and customary fee to make up the total actual fee that the physicians charge.

Speaking for myself and others, we are being forced to cut back on our medical care and health-care maintenance choices. How many people can afford to pay $1,000 out of pocket before they have any insurance coverage?

I understand that there are some physicians in Grant Pass that are "in network." We may have to consider seeking medical care in the Grants Pass or Eugene area. In the long run it would be cheaper to pay the high gas prices for traveling out of the area to be able to keep up our health care and medical needs.

I don't think PrimeCare and our local physicians really understand how much this is affecting the medical care of their patients. — K. Applegate, Medford

The weather has been bad but it has a wonderful side effect that is a real rarity in this valley. Clean air! Those of us with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) have been enjoying it so much and were saddened by the announcement on television on a Wednesday evening that open burning would start in Ashland on Thursday morning.

The powers that be put strict restrictions on woodstoves but allow open burning that should not be allowed in this valley, ever. Too many cars does enough to ruin our air without our help and I will hope Ashland can use better sense.

Our libraries definitely need to remain open since we continue to show much ignorance about many things. — Janet McMullin, Medford

As a citizen of Jackson County, I have faithfully paid the required amount of property taxes for many years. I would like to tell the Jackson County tax department how I feel about their office deciding that for the year of 2006 I wouldn't be eligible for the prepayment benefit deduction on the first quarter of last year's tax monies.

The reason given for disqualifying the prepayment benefit deduction was that the envelope with my payment for the full year's taxes was postmarked one day late!

Tactics like this remind me so much of some of the major credit cards and retail store accounts that consumers must deal with. For example, if your payment arrived after 5 p.m. EST on the business day due, that will be another $40 added to your account, or worse yet, they will raise the interest rate on your account.

One other thing I would like to mention. If you think the above incident I wrote about puts me in any mind to vote a yes on any future tax increase in this county, I can assure you that a resounding no will always come from this voter! — Lewis Edwards, Eagle Point

I'm glad the issue of irresponsible cat owners and their shoe-cleaning neighbors is finally getting some attention. Nocturnal kitties crapping outside their homes are more than a mere nuisance, however. They are also a public health hazard and a violation of existing statutes. Why are fines for repeat offenders not more strictly enforced? Is paperwork from the shelter not proof enough?

I see a link to another backyard bone of contention: the legal right to keep chickens. Every American must have the right to raise their own food if they choose, as space and sunlight allow. The law rightfully holds liable a neighbor whose dog trespasses and kills my birds. Equally disgusting is the thought of feeding my family carrots grown in a garden bed that becomes my neighbor's cat box.

Responsible pet owners will understand this is nothing personal. I also love cats; I just love my own safe food supply more. Law-abiding cat owners will keep their cats inside for everyone's safety.

Perhaps the rest of you need to experience the comparatively minor nuisance of checking the shelters when your cats "show up missing". And consider release fees both a warning and the most compassionate outcome available. — Scott McGuire, Ashland

In a recent letter, Ben Stanos suggested that global warming is not related to human activity. If he has an open mind, I hope he'll consider these facts:

Current atmospheric CO2 levels are now 27 percent higher than they have ever been at any point in time over the past 650,000 years. That is very significant. This increase began with the industrial revolution, and is clearly linked with such human activity as coal burning and car exhaust.

While glacial cycles, moderate climate shifts and smaller amounts of CO2 are all natural occurrences, the sheer volume of CO2 increase since the industrial revolution is far beyond normal levels of CO2 shift, and it's accelerating faster than ever before.

Here are my questions to Ben:

Does he really think that we can throw so much pollution into our atmosphere without negative effects? Does he really believe that cleaning up this pollution is a wasted effort? If you don't feel entitled to throw your trash in your neighbor's backyard without cleaning it up, why leave it in the air we all breathe? — Dune Thomas, Ashland

A jury in Ohio concludes that PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) drugs caused an Ohio woman's breast cancer. A Pennsylvania jury awarded $3 million last week to an Ohio woman who claimed the hormone drug Prempro, which is made from pregnant mares' urine, caused her to develop breast cancer. More than 5,000 women have sued the pharmaceutical company Wyeth over its hormone drugs Premarin and Prempro.

Studies link hormone therapy drugs like Premarin for premenopausal women to breast cancer. Researchers at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium showed that breast cancer cases declined 7 percent in 2003 after a federal study connecting hormone therapy drugs to heart disease, cancer, stroke and other medical problems prompted millions of women to stop taking them. The decline may be directly related to the reduced use of Premarin and Prempro.

Many horses and their foals will be coming up for adoption from the PMU farms. We must prevent the slaughter of those horses who have suffered greatly in those farms. Look up www.PMURescue.org on the Web or e-mail info@uan.org on behalf of United Animal Nations for more information. Three hundred horses now await adoption. — Nina Council, Ashland

This year, legislators can allocate more money for public education, allowing schools to begin to recover from the unrelenting hits of the past several years. Legislative leaders say they will fight for $6.3 billion for schools — a great start toward reinvesting in our children's future.

Budget cuts have meant huge losses for our children. Fewer school employees have had more duties, for less pay, to meet student needs.

Personnel, programs and materials have been lost. Educators have struggled to meet students' needs, often in classes of 36 or more. (Hoover Elementary School has at least two classrooms with 40 students.) We can be grateful for these hard-working professionals. The fact that Oregon's test scores are still strong is proof.

No, $6.3 billion won't make us "well," but it's a start. We can strengthen schools again!

We've settled for less for too long! Now it's time to speak out!

We want great schools, smaller classes and lost programs restored in safe, clean buildings. We have the power. We must have the courage to use it! A strong public education system is essential to the future of our children! — June Buck, Medford, retired Medford teacher and grandmother of a kindergarten student at Oak Grove

Open your eyes. The global warming debate is not about science. It's about politics and power.

Recent articles about the attempts to form international governing bodies strike to the heart of the matter. Thirty years ago the consensus was that the earth was cooling, we were on the verge of overpopulation and oil and other resource depletion. What else have "experts" gotten wrong?

There are books full of examples. If you put on blinders, close your mind and ignore a large portion of the evidence, you can justify any idea that comes down the pipe.

The earth is either heating up or cooling down. That is what it does. Evidence for climate stability is strangely absent.

A warmer Earth may produce more rain, bringing fresh water for crops and people that are in desperate need. Or not. We just don't know, and believing one way or the other has zero impact on the truth.

The change in CO2 constitutes about one thousandth of 1 percent of the atmosphere. Water is the greenhouse gas that most affects global warming. Which of those two statements is more easily twisted by the pseudointellectual power-mongers that want to run your life and keep you down? — Jerry Ross, Grants Pass

In rebuttal to the front page article written by Damian Mann, "Library PAC guns for levy passage": I am a strong supporter of our libraries. I am not in support of more funding to be gobbled up in the general fund like the last funding that was going to do the trick!

We need to hold those accountable that set budgets for departments like public safety and allowed them to spend funds like they had an open credit card. Our libraries and their allotted budgets and spending are not the problem. Please address the problem that has brought about this problem and then you will get this citizen to vote yes, until then good sailing. — Gordon Elliot, White City

Two years ago I became a volunteer with Candlelighters For Children. This is a foundation that helps families that have been affected by childhood cancers.

I have had the pleasure to meet many wonderful children and their families, as well as community members and organizations.

Rogue Snowmobilers have been huge supporters of Candlelighters. They recently held their annual pie auction and raised $6,800 — all to be donated to our local branch.

This great group of people has raised over $25,000 by holding this annual event in the past eight years. Not only do they raise money, but they also sponsor a day of fun for our families. They give free snowmobile rides and provide a terrific lunch one day a year.

It is my honor to thank them on behalf of all of our families. I would also like to thank Marie Callender's for their generous donation of 15 pies. — Michelle Morgan, Medford