In response to the "Playing with fire" editorial, as the parent of an unvaccinated child I feel that it is only fair and reasonable that I have a chance to defend myself. After being accused of everything from endangering the life of a newborn baby, jeopardizing the health of my community, and relying on other vaccinated children to keep my family safe, I think the "other side" has a right to be heard.

I hope the Tribune/Tidings will represent what is obviously a growing part of our community. My decision to not vaccinate had nothing to do with the Wakefield study, but rather the mountain of evidence I discovered while doing research which shows that vaccines are neither safe nor effective. There is so much more to this issue than any of us could ever imagine.

I would like to ask a question to the reader: How did you form your opinion on vaccination? Was it from what every doctor, teacher, government official and parent has ever told you? Or was it from countless hours of independent research? I sleep well at night with my answer. — Sabrina Paulick, Ashland

I would like to call attention once again to the disgraceful condition of Medford's Garfield Street.

Interested and patriotic citizens have applied for relief from the incredible squalor of this street in the past, but to no avail. This demand, City Council members, is not the mild complaint of one or two dyspeptic citizens; it is the voice of an aroused community! It is the voice of a united body of voters and taxpayers!

Why are the city officials blind to the real needs of the town? How can they know what it is like for common citizens to weep helplessly over a street the city will not repair; a thoroughfare which negates every effort of a conscientious neighborhood to groom itself into respectability?

Just last week a faded moccasin appeared, after a rain, in a pothole, a remnant of the days when Garfield was an Indian trail, and in better condition, doubtless, than it is now.

All this should convince all intelligent observers, and maybe the city officials, that the above described street should be declared posthaste a community emergency and suitably repaired. — Stan Carstensen, Medford

To the gentleman who stopped to help me on Feb. 1, thank you.

I was walking our dog Woody along Windsor Avenue. A car with a loud muffler went by, which scared Woody, and he bumped into my leg and I fell. I don't know how long I would have been in the street without your help.

I did have surgery on my elbow. I am just so thankful that you stopped to help me. You are in my prayers. — Arlene Rians, Medford

Regarding the front-page article and pictures of gang graffiti: Your Feb. 12 front page featured five pictures of gang graffiti in Phoenix. The article next to them named the gang responsible in the subhead.

In my opinion, naming the gang and showing their "handiwork" was a mistake because it gave them exactly what they want: recognition. Members of a gang are unlikely to get recognized in any positive way through excellence in academics or sports or the arts. Now they feel important, and will probably recruit more members to do more vandalism. You also encouraged other gangs in the area to get noticed this way. Reporting the vandalism was necessary, but showing pictures of it and naming the gang on the front page was not.

Please do not give such prominent identification to gang vandalism in the future. — Beverly Schmidt, Talent

To the people who didn't wait for the city or county to make the much-needed pothole repair on their streets, thank you for taking the initiative to fix them yourselves so that your neighborhood doesn't look like a "war zone." Unbelievable! — G. Hebert, Medford

Joseph Vaile lists seven reasons to support a new national monument. One is "economics." He says "... areas with a sustainable recreation emphasis are economic engines that improve the quality of life and make communities desirable for business ... ."

Ask the people of Gasquet or Crescent City, Calif., if the Smith River National Recreation Area has been an economic engine. It was created in 1991 within the Six Rivers National Forest. The same reasons were used then. It has had 20 years to live up to the expectations listed by Mr. Vaile. It's never become a destination. Topography is steep, access is Highway 199, there are few places for views.

The proposed Siskiyou Crest monument has even poorer access and view areas. It will not be a monument like Mount St. Helens, where a defining feature draws visitors.

The rhetoric that unless "saved" it'll be logged and forever lost rings hollow. Harvest has declined 90 percent since the 1980s. There is no imminent threat; the land is publicly owned and will remain so.

This proposal is another in the continuing campaign to create support for making public forest lands pseudo-national parks by inventing an environmental crisis that doesn't exist. — Bill Jones, Eagle Point

Because of an infamous death threat against a novelist and attempted and actual murders of entertainers by misguided Muslims, Americans could understandably suspect Prophet Muhammad of being cursed with an intolerant and bloodthirsty personality. Little is further from the truth.

A pagan sat by Muhammad's path and would throw refuse on him and strew dangerous obstacles in his way. One day, his tormentor's perch was empty due to illness. Muhammad dutifully visited him.

Muhammad borrowed money to help the poor. A Jewish man attempting to collect his loan strode into the mosque where the Messenger of God was sitting among many devoted friends and seized him by his beard, demanding repayment. The prophet's companions leapt to their feet but were restrained by Muhammad who said, "Let him be. Pray for me I repay what I owe him; and pray for him he asks me nicer next time."

Muhammad was described by contemporaries as being "a walking Qur'an." His character is extolled in The Holy Qur'an, which reads: "Ye have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful pattern of conduct for any whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of God." — Rob Brown, Ashland

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