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Keep those trail descriptions by Gabriel Howe coming. It is fun during the winter to imagine how much fun these routes would be.

In fact, they are rather dicey. At least I was smart enough to leave my wife behind before attempting these.

One route near Brookings had just been closed the month before to prevent spread of the oak tree's sudden-death disease. The nice thing is that he describes hiking routes in areas that I would never think of going into otherwise.

So good work. Let's keep them coming. — Alan Frierson, Medford

Jeff Scroggin is an energetic and sincere candidate running for Jackson County commissioner. He recently met with a group of rural neighbors in a private home near Wimer.

With an engaging style, the Oregon native laid out his vision for the county's future that includes family-wage jobs, local business support, updating land-use regulations, upgrades to local infrastructure and high-tech investments. He believes business looks to stay and locate where communities invest in themselves.

Keeping local dollars local is only part of his agenda. To be effective, the Democrat says he will work to gain support from Republicans as he has done while working as chief aide for state Sen. Alan Bates. Scroggin represents the next generation of dedicated public servants who will connect with and solicit input from residents at public forums he intends to hold throughout the county. Jeff Scroggin has my vote. — Dennis Rasmussen, Rogue River

Jamie Lusch should be commended for that powerful, well-composed photo of the firefighting airplane on the front page of the Aug. 17 edition. I know that took quick setup and execution. The violent color, the closeness of the airplane, the silhouetted trees; it has it all. I think it should be entered in at least a print media industry contest. "Best Non-Sports Action" of 2012? — Joe Ward, Shady Cove

Your two syndicated columnists from Arkansas, Gene Lyons and Paul Greenberg, are both praised and reviled by opposing elements within your readership. Such passion is the very reason why the Mail Tribune should ignore demands to remove either writer from the mix.

The intellectual brilliance of both is evidenced by prestigious awards — Lyons, a National Magazine Award, and Greenberg, a Pulitzer Prize. I hope you will continue to let your readers weigh their remarkably different views and their competing ideologies.

Those wishing to ban either column should have nothing to fear from the eloquent expressions of two wise old men.

Thomas Jefferson — who spent much of his life debating politics with his good friend John Adams — put it best: "Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." — Hadley Nesbitt, Medford

Back in 1965, I knew Mitt Romney personally. Or maybe I should say I wanted to, but the feeling was not mutual.

We were both assigned to the same freshman dormitory, Rinconada House at Stanford. I was a budding Republican — one of "Barry's Boys" the year before — so I thought this son of a Republican governor might be worth befriending. But, alas, I was the son of a professor at some small college he'd never heard of, and a graduate of Arcata High, not some elite prep academy.

He didn't seem to care about ordinary guys like me at all, and I doubt that has changed.

Mitt left Stanford the following March for his mission in France, then transferred to BYU. Yes, I did see him in his police uniform (the rumors are true), which struck me as a bit odd even at the time. — Bruce Borgerson, Ashland