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They used to guard embassies and diplomats in foreign countries. Pretty well, too. Now, for the price of a squad of Marines for a month, you can hire one rent-a-soldier for two weeks.

As a former Marine I'm offended to hear some no-bid-contract bozo bragging to an investigative committee about what a good job his people are doing. Anybody looks suspicious, they shoot 'em. The guys I knew took more pride in their profession and never shot anybody.

This is another step toward outsourcing the functions of government to people who must make a profit. In our national parks and forests anything that will make money is contracted out while maintenance of those facilities is left to the taxpayers.

The prospect that functions that should be done by government, that is us, are being done by people with only profit to motivate them is frightening enough. The scary thing is that a lot of empires, the Carthaginians, Egyptians, Romans, among them, when they were in their declining periods, hired mercenaries because they didn't have enough citizens willing to fill their armies. Casey Stengel would say, "You could look it up." — David A. Klein, Medford

St. Vincent de Paul wants to thank the community for its donations to our food pantry.

A story that ran Oct. 23 pointed out the growing needs and increasing costs of providing food for the needy.

After the story ran, the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry started to receive donations. Cash, food and volunteers were offered to the society. The first-grade students at Hoover Elementary School brought in 70 bags of groceries. The Rogue Valley Wranglers Junior A Ice Hockey Team held a food drive at a Saturday night game. Others donated as well.

For those who would still like to help out, there will be a Madame Alexander doll show and sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 11 at St. Vincent de Paul, 2424 N. Pacific Highway, Medford. A local family donated 285 dolls, valued at $15,000. Money raised from the sale will go directly to the food pantry. — Betty and Charles Burgess, Food Pantry directors, Medford

The Jacksonville Booster Club would like to thank all those who attended this years production of "Come Meet the Pioneers" in the Jacksonville Historic Cemetery on Oct. 13, 20 and 21. The tours were a tremendous success and the money raised will go a long way in helping to support the Booster Club's ongoing restoration work in the cemetery.

We sincerely appreciate the support of Mayor Jim Lewis and the city of Jacksonville, our cemetery neighbors, Pioneer Village, our volunteers and all our guests. Hope to see you in October 2008. — Dirk J. Siedlecki, chairperson, Come Meet the Pioneers, Jacksonville Booster Club