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Answers are dueI would strongly suggest the Medford School Board delay any further action on spending bond money until they look into the mistaken cost estimates used to sell this to the community.A full explanation subject to public examination and criticism is the least owed to the voters and taxpayers. What little credibility is left is at stake. Answers are due. &

8212; Steven Plunk, Medford

Thrilled beyond beliefI can't express how pleased I was when I read the Feb. 27 paper and saw we will spend $1.6 million on the Bear Creek Greenway. I was afraid that money might be wasted on such things as police, fire, schools and libraries. I guess I shouldn't have worried. Our people are too smart to waste money like that! &

8212; J.W. Shaw, Medford

Teachers work hard

To answer your question, or thought, as it were, "we wonder how long it will take before public education joins the rest of the working world, where employers increasingly expect more work for the same money" (Feb. 28) I think we are there.

We work hard. We work on weekends, in our homes, and late each evening (Friday I went back to work after I'd put my own two kids to bed and worked from 9-11:30).

I don't know a single teacher who wants more money. We want smaller classes so we can give children the attention they deserve.

I'm all for longer days, and am frustrated by the lack of time we have to teach everything we need to teach (upwards of 15 subjects at the elementary level, as well as counselors and librarians to our students, as these positions have been cut in Medford). However, we are short of preparation time for the time we spend with our students now.

Anyone who suggests that teachers don't work hard enough hasn't been in the classroom in a while. Any good teacher teaches her students to know their topic before they write. Need a classroom to visit? Come see me. &

8212; Kelly Larson, Medford, fourth-grade teacher

Shame on AARPAs a longtime member of AARP I was disappointed to see, in a recent article, that the organization came out against House Bill 2639 which would require drivers over 75 to renew their licenses every four years rather than every eight years.

In my view the goals of AARP should focus on the larger benefits to seniors, such as safety on our ever more crowded highways rather than the insignificant chore of visiting the DMV twice in eight years rather than only once. Also, providing an agency the opportunity, through testing, to restrict the driving of impaired seniors is substantially more effective than leaving the task to family members who are often unable to judge the elder's skills. &

8212; E. Norgard, Medford

Ski road driving hazardousAs my family was driving down the Mount Ashland access road after playing in the snow on March 4, a very disturbing thing happened. We were tailgated by a woman in a Subaru who twice tried to blindly pass us on the double yellow and both times came close to a head-on collision with someone going up the mountain.

Unfortunately, my husband says it is very common for people to drive recklessly up there. Drivers: You may want to take chances with your own life, but please don't take innocent people along with you. &

8212; Julie Stucki, Medford

'Decider' weighs inIt is amazing what one can read by checking other papers besides the old MT &

8212; the Washington Post had fascinating stories March — about how badly our troops who do get home are being treated by our chickenhawk commander-in-chief.

I see the "decider" has decided to intervene in the evolving scandal about Walter Reed Hospital, and has promised to "hold accountable" those who created the mess, and even gone so far as to appoint a bilateral commission to investigate. I'm sure they will receive at least as much being held accountable as those who leaked the name of an active undercover CIA agent to the press.

I can only pray that the veterans who are at the "decider's" mercy get better treatment than those victims of Katrina who were promised "whatever it takes to rebuild" before he got back on his 747 and forgot what he had promised. After all, it is the Bush budget people who are cutting VA funding at a time when more and more wounded vets are coming home to inadequate care and uncaring, Bush-driven bureaucracies. &

8212; Ed Cooper, Shady Cove

We live on borrowed moneyIn 2000 the voters approved a bond issue to build new libraries without a stable source of money to run them; that was a mistake. The money from Congress lasted longer then I thought it would. Now the voters will be asked for another increase in their property tax.

How many families will be able to afford this increase? Not as many as you think. You should view this in the context of the way our economy is supported by debt. In 1987, home mortgage debt was $1.8 trillion; now it is $8.2 trillion. In 1987, consumer debt was $2.7 trillion; now it is $11 trillion.

Our federal government debt is over $8.2 trillion. Our debt to other countries we compete with will allow them to be our bankers &

8212; like Japan and China. This will allow them to have more influence then they should have.

Americans now live on borrowed money, imports and a declining manufacturing base. For those looking for a good company to buy books from go to to get a catalog &

8212; look at the books and prices. &

8212; Art Gerds Jr., Yreka, Calif.

Bush is admirableIt is untrue that fighting, being wounded, being a POW or decorated war hero somehow makes one more qualified to be president &

8212; even of a local organization.

One mark of a true leader is willingness to make and stand by decisions that may be unpopular. There are candidates who constantly transform themselves to look politically appealing.

I highly admire President Bush. I believe he truly endeavors to do what is right for our nation &

8212; including the war in Iraq. His integrity far overshadows his more popular predecessor. Yes, Bush is a "politician," but then, that's what you'll elect again in '08.

Anti-war? Our enemies aren't. Besides, if a president needs our (often grossly uninformed) approval for everything he does, then we don't need a president (or legislature for that matter), polls could direct our country ... yeah, that'll work.

God save us from ourselves. Help us elect another public servant of true moral character.

No, the first daughters haven't served in Iraq. However, they live in a fishbowl, deprived of privacy by Secret Service protection for more than eight years. But what's truth got to do with it? Assail indiscriminately &

8212; anything's fair game. &

8212; Bob Calhoun, White City

AARP stand unconscionableThat the AARP and other so-called advocates for older citizens would oppose requiring drivers 75 and older to renew their drivers' licenses every four years instead of the current eight is unconscionable. The Oregon Legislature has an opportunity to do the right thing for all Oregon motorists and pedestrians by passing House Bill 2639.

If organizations such as AARP truly care about seniors and others, and not blindly lobby against what they perceive to be age discrimination, they would support House Bill 2639. This legislation would help prevent fatal and critical injury accidents such as the near-fatal injuries my wife, a pedestrian, received in June 2003 at the hands of a 92-year-old driver.

That motorist, at 91, obtained an eight-year license renewal just a year earlier, although he needed the assistance of a walker when he reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles for his eye exam. The injuries he caused my wife, Valerie, nearly four years ago, resulted in extensive surgery, rehabilitation and the continuing need for 24-hour care.

Want to help prevent such an occurrence from happening to you? Contact your state representative and state senator. &

8212; Kurt Austermann, Medford

St. Patrick lives in LakeviewSt. Patrick's Day is March 17. This is a national celebration for Irish and those of Irish descent. It's observed religiously in New York City, Boston, and Chicago. And also in Lake County and Lakeview, here in Southern Oregon. An important social and economic factor in the historical development of Lake County since the 19th century was Irish immigration.

Irish immigrants were attracted to Lake County primarily because the climate and terrain was conducive to livestock raising, especially sheep. This earned Lake County the nickname "Little Ireland," and since 1869 Irishmen from the Emerald Isle have been prominent in the sheep industry and business.

More on the early Irish immigration to Lake County can be learned from two regional online sources. They include The Lake County Museum at , by clicking on "Irish Heritage Room." Also, The Lake County Examiner in Lakeview at

St. Patrick's Day and Irish heritage is very much alive here in Southern Oregon. &

8212; James A. Farmer, Ashland

New commander neededPresident Bush can't blame the weather, the state of Louisiana or "Heck-of-a-job Brownie" for the despicable treatment of our wounded soldiers pouring in from Iraq and Afghanistan to Walter Reed Hospital.

Men and women with traumatic brain injuries, without arms and legs, who've lost their sight or had their ears blown off by car bombs have been placed in crumbling, dirty rooms infested with rats, cockroaches, peeling paint and mold. They have been forced to roll their wheelchairs across the 163-acre campus in the snow to their outpatient appointments.

It is astonishing that anyone would support a political party with so little compassion for the soldiers. How many among us will continue to be enablers of a failed Middle East policy?

We need a different kind of commander-in-chief, one who will never treat our soldiers and our veterans with such cavalier disrespect. Shame on the president and his party. &

8212; Paulie Brading, Medford

Libraries, or shopping?In May 2000, Jackson County voters approved library bonds for building new libraries. Bill Clinton was president. The country was running a surplus and county commissioners were assured that O&C funds would continue to be forthcoming. No one anticipated what would happen next.

In response to Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush spent billions of unbudgeted dollars each month on war &

8212; and he asked us all to also sacrifice by spending money.

Today rural counties are losing their operating budgets. This May, Jackson County is asking voters to approve a local option raising their property taxes by 66 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to keep our county libraries open. Last fall the voters thought it too much to ask on top of levies to repair our schools, but it's a sacrifice we can now reconsider.

Which is a better investment, supporting our libraries or shopping at the mall? &

8212; Nan Trout, Ashland

Consolidate librariesI'd rather see the county cut the number of libraries in half to have seven or eight strong and functional ones rather than 15 weak and semi-functional ones. The consolidation of resources and effort would minimize the duplication of effort, reduce costs, and improve services such as longer hours of operation to users.

Surely county officials can access national data from studies done on the ratio of the number of libraries to county populations. The number of square feet of library space a county chooses to provide needs to adjust to the limits of the communities' resources not by closing all services but by being more efficient with a few. &

8212; Judith Ticehurst, Medford

Voting noI just received my water bill &

8212; $7.22 for the water but $32 and change for the total. Charter went up, Rogue Disposal went up.

It makes no difference if it is city, county, state or private enterprise, it still has to come out of the peoples' pocket. You can count on me to vote against any library funding, so you folks stumping for library funding can bypass me. &

8212; Rex L. Orcutt, Medford

Property tax not the answerTo assure defeat of a measure to fund Jackson County libraries, just add an additional assessment to the property tax. Jackson County property owners already generously support a number of agencies in our county. Isn't it time for other Jackson County residents to contribute their fair share?

Why always assess the property owners each time a new need for funds arises? Isn't it time to explore other sources of revenue? Why not add a few cents to everyone's electric bill or, excuse the dirty words, add a small tax to purchases made in Jackson County other than property? Think of the revenue this would generate from tourists.

O&C revenue is apparently a thing of the past. We believe it is time to find a solid replacement for these funds, other than property taxes. &

8212; David A. Henderson and Marilyn Daggett, Rogue River

We need our librariesPicture 30,000 clay tablets, 1,300 papyrus scrolls. Even in B.C. times people had a thirst for knowledge. Are we going to let our libraries close? No!

Andrew Carnegie donated money to build public libraries throughout the U.S., including the Medford Library. I'm sure he wouldn't want the money that enabled people who can't afford books and have a desire to read, go to waste.

I'm a fifth-grader at Lone Pine Elementary, and we have to do reports. Our school library doesn't have nearly the information we need. Sure, there's the Internet, but Web sites sometimes give you false information.

Our libraries are too important to close. If you're wondering why people in B.C. times used to write on clay tablets, or if you're doing a report on Andrew Carnegie, the libraries have all the information you'll need. So ask yourself one more time. Should we let our libraries close? No! &

8212; Kendell Erb, fifth grade, Lone Pine Elementary School (three other Lone Pine students also wrote letters supporting the libraries)

The other browsing placeOn March 1, the Mail Tribune published an article about the closing of bookstores. This leaves us with the other place for browsing among the books: the public library. It emphasizes the importance of keeping the Medford Library open.

There must be a way to finance the library. Does anyone agree with me? &

8212; Harold Stram, Medford