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Each time School District 9 has had negative press, four names played a role: Scott Grissom, Ted Dole, Mary Ann Olsen and Superintendent Cynda Rickert.

Three of four years, Eagle Point High School had Oregon's lowest rating. Three-quarters of D9 scores went down last year. We lose seven teachers and hire administrators. This trio helped Rickert's plan to close Elk Trail school, moving students to overburdened classes and eliminating middle school sports. Never has increasing the number of students per classroom ever been the right answer.

Rickert is being investigated for misconduct and gross neglect of duty by the state. Yet, the board members above granted her full control of D9 funds during the strike. She has wasted athletic resources, overspent on repairs and prevented local contractors from bidding on contracts. D9 has spent more than $100,000 on legal fees. Lawsuits are abundant under Rickert but the failure of mandatory reporting of child abuse is an embarrassment that should have mandated accountability instead of letters of support.

Grissom is to represent the community, not enable Rickert to bully our community and waste resources. Dole, Grissom and Olsen have not provided adequate oversight, and are now recruiting Hodges to follow their lead. — Sandra Gifford, Eagle Point

Embryological development begins with the combining of an egg cell and a sperm. Crucially, however, it is the feminine ovaries that produce germ (basic) cells and sex hormones, which stimulate the cycle of reactions that allow an egg, once fertilized by a sperm cell and developed to the "blastular" stage, to become implanted in the uterus and begin to grow. Boy or girl? Recall the old line: "Why do men have nipples?" Answer: "Just in case." The sex of the fertilized egg is not determined at the point of fertilization.

Note: More than one-half of all fertilized eggs ("zygotes") "abort" spontaneously and, for natural reasons, never become implanted in the uterus. Francisco J. Ayala, an evolutionary biologist and former Dominican priest, asks the following question: "If God explicitly designed the human reproductive system, Is God the biggest abortionist of them all?"

Recommended: Jane Maienschein, "Whose View of Life? Embryos, Cloning, and Stem Cells" (2003). It is time to think about — and to legislate about — such matters without dragging ignorance and irrelevance into the discussion. — Gerald Cavanaugh, Ashland

I'm a dedicated supporter of tougher regulations to prevent gun violence. Yet I must confess I hold a grudging admiration of those on the other side. They are passionate in their beliefs, and they act on them. Pro-gun activists write emotional letters to the editor. They also make calls and send emails to legislators. They give substantial sums to the NRA and even more radical pro-gun groups, and they show up in strength for demonstrations and counter-demonstrations.

As for those Americans who share my views, mostly they remain silent and inactive. Why? It only takes a few minutes to call or write. And just a few dollars sent to the Brady Campaign, Moms Demand Action or Ceasefire Oregon will make a pivotal difference, but only if more of the silent thousands open their checkbooks.

Alas, most prefer to do nothing and give nothing. If you honestly believe a firearm death rate between five and 100 times that of other developed countries is perfectly acceptable, fine. If the rapid-fire slaughter of 20 small children at Sandy Hook no longer troubles you, relax. Continue to do nothing, and nothing will change. Otherwise, shame on you. — Bruce Borgerson, Ashland

I enjoyed John Darling's article on Jim and Dena Teece, and was happy to see recognition of their accomplishments. In 1995 Jim took a chance on me, a rough but eager programmer. I flourished under his tutelage.

After 10 years of hard work, fun, learning, and adventure, I "graduated" (the term Jim uses when someone leaves the company). I am where I am today, professionally and personally, in part because of the investment Jim and Dena made in me.

I stand on their shoulders, as well as other giants of technology in our valley, who are providing the means for our citizens to be educated and gainfully employed in professions that can endure. While not elected to a political post, Jim is one of the true leaders of our community. His endeavors have directly, and indirectly, improved the lives of the people in our valley with his foresight into the importance of technology in our future. — Joseph Loutzenhiser, Ashland

Friends and Families of the Central Point Cemetery would like to thank the 73 volunteers who showed up Saturday, April 13, to help clean up this Pioneer Cemetery. It was an outstanding turnout of family members, friends, neighbors, students, Girl Scouts, volunteers from surrounding cemeteries and people who care about this Central Point treasure. Special appreciation to Costco, Human Bean Coffee, Twin Creeks and the city of Central Point for their donations and support in this project. The cemetery has been neglected for a number of years, and following the vandalism that occurred in March 2011, its condition has deteriorated further. We are hopeful that this show of support and caring from the community will inspire the current owners, Damian Idiart and Aaron Nadould, to come forward with the $5,000 they were given in restitution, and proceed with having the damaged grave markers professionally and properly restored. This has dragged on way too long and it's time to do what is right for the families of the loved ones buried in the cemetery and for the community. — Dirk J. Siedlecki, Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries

Di Chiro stated her decision was made. Staff, teachers and parents were excluded from the process.

The plan reconfigures John Muir School from K-8 with classes K-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8, to K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-7-8. No incoming students would be allowed at middle school level. Since attrition peaks in 6-7-8, this means quick death to those classes.

Stress would increase, with all teachers required to teach a new grade while transitioning to the Common Core. In larger schools, 6-7-8 classes have succeeded. In small JMS, it's ludicrous to assign one lone teacher such an age gap and developmental span. The gifted 7-8 teacher expressed she'd rather leave than do kids such disservice.

School board members, the only ones who can overturn Di Chiro's decision, apparently cannot discuss its reasons. They cite, "they're confidential." The few reasons given seemed unsubstantial.

John Muir, an award-winning model school for the two of my four kids blessed to attend. What now? Home school? — Hyiah Sirah, Ashland