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A big "boo" to Avista Gas for contracting with an out-of-state corporation instead of sticking to the tried and true, local Brotherton Pipeline and its employees. What happened to their policy of supporting hometown businesses? A lowball bid does not guarantee quality work, in fact it would seem to guarantee "lowball" quality.

I don't think they will gain much by going in this direction. It certainly won't warm the hearts of the laid-off employees, their families and friends in Jackson and Josephine counties. Of course this will trickle down to the local merchants too. All in all, a wrong move. — Gina Smith, Eagle Point

Your story "School Spirit" is guilty of either slanting or poor language use when describing Sams Valley School as operating "out of a ramshackle collection of buildings ..." Ramshackle means "likely to fall apart because of shoddy construction or upkeep; rickety." This does not describe the condition of Sams Valley School. If true, either District 6 was at fault when it built the school or in its maintenance. The school buildings are hardly rickety.

Nor is the school old. A much older building named Sams Valley School still exists but is no longer a school nor owned by District 6. At 43 years "old" the current elementary school (called "New Sams Valley School" by old-timers) is among the youngest schools in District 6. Gold Hill's elementary is somewhat older and its middle school is "ancient" by comparison.

My father served as principal of the Old Sams Valley School as well as both schools in Gold Hill and my mother taught in Sams Valley and Gold Hill. The New Sams Valley School is neither ramshackle nor old. It should remain as a school in District 6. — Herschel Mack, Sams Valley, Old Sams Valley School '55, Crater '59,

I must side with Ken Webber, the Phoenix school bus driver.

The rebel flag, the Confederate flag, is not a symbol of slavery. It is a Southern heritage and culture emblem of pride of a people who may have lost a war, but nevertheless have a fierce patriotism for the land their ancestors died for.

The Civil War, or The War Between The States, is still being fought in arguments throughout the South, or wherever the relatives of Southern men and women have migrated.

Was Webber a good school bus driver? Was he fair to the children? That's the issue! — Sally Evans, Medford

I crawled out of bed this morning in my Stafford sleepwear (made in Cambodia), put on my robe (Turkey) and headed for the shower (showerhead: China).

I put on my Hanes long johns (El Salvador), Van Heusen shirt (Bangladesh), Dockers (Dominican Republic), socks (Pakistan) and Wilson shoes (China). In the kitchen, I turned on my Sunbeam coffee pot (China), put bread in a Hamilton Beach toaster (China) made a phone call (Uniden, China) and turned on the TV (Magnavox, Mexico).

Later I checked e-mail (E Machines, China; HP printer, Thailand) and checked my blood pressure (blood pressure monitor, China).

One million merchandise containers come into our ports every year, mostly from China. How sad for a nation whose industrial might and technological genius at one time were beyond compare. During World War II, America was the "great arsenal of democracy." In 1942, American shipyards turned out 8 million tons of merchant ships, almost 20 million tons in 1943.

Now we can't make a toaster.

After the war into the '50s, our factories were humming. Everything I purchased had a label: "Made in America."

It's no secret why we have 15 million unemployed: We need to put America back to work. — Red Smith, Medford

Whoever did the repairs on Garfield better find a new job.

The so-called repairs I think only lasted 48 hours, if that. I just drove down for the first time since repairs and guess what, the gravel and holes are coming back! We now are starting to dodge the holes again.

Have you heard the saying "If you can't do it right don't do it at all?" Whatever happened to quality work, something you would be proud of, and know it will last, that you would put your name on?

I would like to know why, when the holes were filled, they couldn't have paved over it? Don't you think then it would last?

I would also like to ask, is the work guaranteed? Will they go back and only fill the holes in again?

It's a good thing they aren't gravediggers, and then filled in the hole! — Joan Walsh, Phoenix

Duane Sample (March 6) needs to chill out a bit.

The people of Wisconsin elected exactly what was promised them. Gov. Walker promised what he is delivering.

Maybe Mr. Sample needs to return to Wisconsin to "fight the battle" while we take care of the problems that directly affect us, i.e., water parks, timber payments, etc. Oregon public unions may have to be dealt with later. — P. Moran, Medford

Regarding the letter "Redneck, not racist": The Confederacy was about preserving slavery, not state's rights.

"Powers" are reserved by the states per the 10th Amendment, but they do not include those of secession nor waging war. To suggest the Confederate flag doesn't communicate racism is to be ignorant of history, the Civil War and its cost in blood and treasure.

The rebels attacked Fort Sumter; nobody attacked the South, except in the national debate on the issue of slavery. The Stars and Bars are forever a symbol of enslavement and racism.

Having said so, I think the man (not the states of the old Confederacy — they lost the war) has a right to fly that flag in public.

Is there no room for compromise here? Might the self-avowed redneck simply conceal his colors, assuming that is the key issue, when his truck is parked on school property? Might that not be a sufficient gesture on his part for the school board to give him his job back?

These are difficult times, and even rednecks need to eat. How does society benefit by another hungry — and angry — out-of-work citizen?

This incident seems another good occasion for application of the "reasonable man" standard. — Gary R. Collins, Jacksonville

I believe Mr. Webber's First Amendment rights were violated by his recent suspension for displaying a Confederate flag from his pickup truck.

This situation does involve free speech infringement by the government, because the initiative for the suspension came from the public school district superintendent, and the district's policy forms the basis for the suspension. While the district's written policy may be an appropriate regulation of student dress, it overreaches when it is applied to the personal vehicle of an adult employee.

If this infringement were allowed to stand, then the government might have the power to force an employee to remove a political bumper sticker on the pretext that the views of the party or candidate in question are not acceptable. — Samuel Berry, Medford

Loyalty! Avista Utilities, shame on you!

Aista claims to have a sense of community yet the company is shopping out of state to replace Brotherton Pipeline after a 44-year relationship. This will cost our community 25-50 local jobs.

The public has supported Avista for over 114 years. Now Avista is ready to pull the plug on Brotherton Pipeline ... for what? A few pennies on the bottom line?

Shame, shame, shame on you. Loyalty and community and local jobs matter. Just think, you could be next. — Chrissi Thomas, Gold Hill

I worked for VISTA, which is the Peace Corps in the United States. My job was to get a place for the frail and elderly to meet and have fun.

I receive a stipend and had to have another source of income. I had free health care. I had a wonderful time. We met at the Medford Hotel and various places. I served for one year. — Patricia McMullen, Medford