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Our sixth-grade teacher in Riddle was Miss Hays. She was quick to spot any shortcoming, and demanding in the proper use of English language. When called upon, one could not get off the hook with any excuse. We were expected to answer correctly or we would be verbally ridiculed in front of our peers and left to flounder until we expressed ourselves correctly using proper English.

The language rule had many levels, and one followed every rule at his or her command before speaking. She was tough, but she was right!

I thought of Miss Hays as I affixed my "go-stamp" to the seal of the engine section of Apollo 11 prior to the launch of mankind's first attempt to land astronauts on the moon in 1969. Her influence played a major role in the future of at least one boy in her charge.

I have told her story many times as I speak to students of all ages. Her influence in my life was reflected in countless challenges I have encountered.

Thank you, Miss Hays, and thanks to all the teachers who devote their life to giving every child a decent chance to attain their potential, and accept nothing less. — Dave Larson, Central Point

Support our teachers and tell the School Board members to honor the agreement they made with the teachers four years ago.

The Medford School Board has published that they have offered teachers a 10 percent raise. Everyone in the Medford school system, board members, management, and teachers, know that this is not true. When coupled with a take-back in benefits and added work days, their offer amounts to a 78 hundredths of 1 percent increase the first year, and one percent the next, which would almost surely be later negated by a further cap in insurance benefits. This barely gets teachers back to where they were four years ago.

The board knows this, but they will not acknowledge it publicly. They seem to want to nurture the lie that "those greedy teachers want to take money from the children."

When the recession hit Oregon, the Medford School Board asked the teachers union to take a cut in days and pay with the written agreement that when money was restored, teachers would receive compensation. There is more money now, but the board has chosen not to honor that agreement. — Mary Claflin, Medford

In the last two months I have spoken to a man who paid $10,000 for a CAT scan. I have spoken to a woman in her 60s who delayed an MRI for her bad back because she couldn't afford the price. I have spoken to another couple in their 60s who were making payments on a $3,000 MRI they had last year.

When I ran for county commissioner, I told people (www.electmarksoderstrom.com) that local government needed to take action to bring down medical costs, and also that county government needs to look into alternative plans for scanning costs in Southern Oregon. When is the Mail Tribune going to expose these huge overcharges? All you have to do is google "Northwest MRI" and you can find MRIs for $600. Why don't you do some original reporting and expose this multi-million dollar overcharging in Jackson County? — Mark Soderstrom, Phoenix

A recent article in the MT contained some misinformation on trapping regulations. It also led readers to think the new restrictions would protect dogs and other non-target animals from traps by requiring them to be set back 50 feet from public trails.

The truth is that a "public trail" is defined as one that is "marked, maintained and mapped on the most recent map produced by the state" (it must be all three). For all other trails, except those in "designated wilderness areas," this restriction does not apply. Many — if not most — popular trails do not conform to this definition.

The article also got the restriction about killing traps and water sources backwards. The only place you can put killing traps (conibears) with a jaw spread of greater than 7.5 inches is within 50 feet of a seasonal or permanent water source. These big killers are placed close to water, where people and their dogs love to recreate.

The ballot initiative being rewritten for 2016 will prohibit recreational and commercial trapping only on public — not private — land, bringing Oregon in line with Washington, California and other states. Visit www.trapfreeoregon.com for more information. — Lin Bernhardt, Talent

Wouldn't it be funny if we walked into our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or any of the hundreds of research facilities studying climate change, and threw out Mr. Fox's question (Letters, Jan. 15): "Hey, any of you guys look at the historical record?" And the whole place went quiet as they all looked at each other, slowly shaking their heads ... "Ah, gee, I guess we haven't done that." You think?

Now Doug Dusenberry (Jan. 13) thinks these scientists are a "ship of fools" getting stuck in ice when we're supposed to be running out of ice. Hard to know what to believe. Of course, we've got Donald Trump, and Rush, and Stuart Varney from Fox claiming this global warming stuff is all rubbish — and we know those guys pretty much know what's goin' on.

On the other side here comes this guy, John Holdren, who's put out a two minute video (http://youtu.be/5eDTzV6a9F4) on his view on the matter. He's got a lot of those scary credentials; MIT, Stanford, member of our National Academy of Sciences, meaning he's one of those pesky environmental extremists. But, hey, let's let those guys have a say also. — Carl Prufer, Ashland

Are agricultural corporations who hold patented GMO plant material evil? Genetic engineers disagree, and suggest GMO plants are needed to avoid future starvation from global warming and increasing population. With GMO crops we will see less pesticides, maybe more herbicides, less tillage plus saving topsoil, and/or better plant adaptation.

GMO plants are also being developed and patented by universities or ag industries besides corporations. Passing Measure 15-119 would ban all GMO plant material in Jackson County, including woody material and seed crops sourced from OSU or other institutions. However, this initiative could be meaningless in Oregon because it opposes the state right-to-farm laws.

Already the wine grape industry has a GMO that would reduce the necessity of spraying 8-10 pesticides a year for powdery mildew. This is an institutionally held GMO plant material from Australia that would make it easier for our local industry to grow organic/sustainable grapes.

Also, future pear production may include a GMO to improve ripening, since a research group in Washington State has identified the gene for ripening.

These are examples of local GMO crops we may soon expect but which won't occur if Measure 15-119 passes. Vote no on the county ballot. — Porter Lombard, Medford

Thank you, Medford teachers, for giving so much of your strength and spirit to the students in our community.

As you negotiate, the myriad tasks of your day in the classroom are compounded by the hours you spend outside of school, working on solutions for your future and that of retirees. One of those jobs alone is full-time, yet you add this task to your lives, returning to your classroom the next day, ready to meet an abundance of energetic children.

You are the professionals. Daily, you create the best possible learning environment for our students. Teachers are the lifeline connecting our children to the world beyond home. Morale, respect and the emotional and physical health of public schools should not be concepts we negotiate, but instead are what we teach and model for our children. It's what you signed up to do, and no one does it better.

For your dedication to Medford's children, and for the way you realize the honor and responsibility of teaching them about a world that is waiting for them outside your school door, I am not alone in sending you my appreciation and encouragement. Your best work is for children. — Jacqueline Taylor, Medford