We want to personally thank all of the angels that our family has come into contact with in the last few days.

God bless the firefighters, the police, the coroner, the medical examiner, Red Robin, neighbors, friends and total strangers. God bless each and every one of you. Most of all, thank you for the prayers. None of us could have handled this without you. — The Plankenhorn family, Phoenix

As an independent voter who made my interest known to Rep. Walden, I am quite disappointed in his vote in siding with the Bush veto of the SCHIP bill.

Kids are our responsibility and need access to adequate health care. Even families that are working scrimp to make ends meet without being able to afford medical insurance. Shame on Rep. Walden for not voting for kids. — Jan Elliott, Ashland

My wife and I still mourn the loss of Molly Ivins. She combined a warm heart, common sense, fire in the belly and exquisite humor in almost all her columns.

Susan Estrich does not replace Molly Ivins' voice, but her columns refresh the ongoing political dialogue in helpful ways. Primarily, Ms. Estrich seems to have roots in a home with children, the need to earn money and pay bills and the other everyday necessities of average Americans.

Her recent column on her hero, Judge J. Skelly Wright, reminded me that the heroes of most world citizens are probably non-celebrities like a good public school teacher, a small-business owner, the guy who coaches the kids' ball team, a woman who stopped on the highway and helped when one of the grandkids got sick on a winding road.

I think that Ms. Estrich has been close enough to celebrity and political power to know that hope and meaning do not abide there. Thanks for including her wisdom in the Mail Tribune. — Sam Alvord, Lincoln on the Greensprings

Your Oct. 15 story left out an important result of the actions of various groups that stopped the Elk Creek Dam, wasting $120 million of taxpayer money. That is the disruption of the lives and loss of homes of the 30-plus families who were forced off their land, many of them farms and ranches dating back to 1800s.

Since these groups claim Elk Creek is historically a prime spawning area for salmon, the people who lived and farmed so many years must have been doing the right thing with their land, pushing gravel back into the streambed each spring, forming pools and side channels much as beaver do with their dams. This also raised the water level in the riparian area, allowing large trees to flourish along the stream for shade. The trees are mostly dead after 35 years of the water pushing gravel out of the streambed in winter and running over hot bedrock in summer.

So let those families back to make it into the green and productive valley it was, instead of six miles of ruined, weed-infested wasteland that requires a police presence all summer and is locked all winter so even those with land beyond it can't access their property. — Jack M. Vaughan, Trail

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