I was impressed with an editorial in the July 26 edition of the MT (Educating ourselves).

In making a comparison between the challenges our local students face in school, compared to those in Africa's Guinea who cannot even find enough light under which to study, the editorial seeks to apply some perspective. "Students in Oregon can get a quality education, but we wonder how many would make the effort that others in the world routinely undertake to expand their horizons?"

Our students are the most precious commodity this country possesses. They are the future of this great nation. The quality of their future lives depends upon the value students see in their own education.

Some of our students go on to Stanford and other prestigious institutions. Others are not taking the educational process seriously; have not understood the value of the knowledge their community, their parents and their schools are so desperate to provide them.

It is my hope that each pupil periodically assesses their effort and honestly concludes that they've done their very best. Anything less should conjure the image of that student in Guinea cramming in that one hour of illumination under a naked light bulb. — Carlus B. Harris, Ashland

My Pacific Power statement shows that the city of Medford has raised the franchise fee to 7 percent from a former 31/2 percent or a 100 percent increase in the fee. Pacific Power had to raise the cost of electricity by 13 percent due to a lawsuit. It would seem to me that prudent judgement would have left the fee to remain at 31/2 percent.

This franchise fee is added to our bill and paid for by the billed customer. We have $26.64 added to our water bills by the city in fees to pay for services that should be paid through property taxes. I am not sure whose idea it was to raise the franchise fee, the City Council's or the city manager's. I think they should inform us why it was necessary, and what they are spending the money on.

If they don't have a need to increase the fee, it should be rescinded. If this fee increase is allowed to happen, all the other franchise fees will be increased and yes, you will pay for the increase. — Robert G. Depp, Medford

I have read two different views on hiring soldiers vs. the most qualified, so here's a third: In the '60s, the draft existed, taking our sons with no options as to "what they'd rather do." Today, as we all know, the military is voluntary.

A college education seems like a "must" to get a decent enough job to even pay rent these days. But what about character?

Want an employee who has been trained to meet deadlines in spite of any odds? Hire a soldier. Want an employee who will show up every day and respect authority? Hire a soldier. Want an employee who cared enough about his/her family and country to answer the call without receiving a notice in the mail? Hire a soldier.

Many returning soldiers are not trying to take away teaching, medical or accounting jobs that require college degrees. They need the chance to prosper whether it be starting or returning to college or finding a decent job.

I was asked the other day if I would be interested in returning to work. The employer was having a hard time finding a quality person. This job required a degree. — René Hensley, Central Point

In response to "Support Troops First" (July 27): It is not OK to kill women and children. It is actually not OK to kill anyone; the Bible says "Thou shalt not kill."

I am no Christian, but I play by the rules. The other day the newspaper said the Biscuit logging of old growth was illegal. Just like the occupation of Iraq is an illegal atrocity. I want my old-growth trees back, and the 3,646 killed soldiers, and the over 50,000 U.S. causalities, and the million innocent Iraqis back. I want a civil society. — Linda Richards, Ashland

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