As a parent of former 4-Hers, I know that it is an amazing program offering leadership and character training which has no substitutes.

No other organization offers kids the level of responsibility that 4-H projects require in terms of commitment, time and public scrutiny of their work. No other organization offers the opportunity for the entire family (all ages and genders) to work together.

But a devoted family is not required to benefit from 4-H. Time and again I've seen how kids with troubled families found their personal worth through 4-H clubs and projects. When 4,000 Jackson County kids aren't involved in 4-H next year, what will they be doing instead? I understand that our county is struggling to keep our jail operating; however, taking from 4-H is a very short-sighted solution.

I believe that whatever the 4-H portion of the Jackson County budget is, it is matched by the thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of volunteer hours that community members devote to 4-H. All that social capital is working productively and cheaply under the umbrella of the 4-H program. Don't dismantle something working so well. Find a way to keep 4-H. — Mary K. Barton, White City

Canadian oilmen begin by removing topsoil and vegetation to expose the sand, which is infused with tar.

Next, they burn oil to make steam in order to cook the tar-sand and release its oil. This is very thick oil, like molasses. They want to dig a trench and install a pipeline to pump the thick, sulfur-laden oil across the U.S. to get it to a refinery in a free trade (nontaxable) zone in Texas.

The pipeline would go through parts of mid-America where a gigantic underground aquifer waters immense farmlands. A pipeline carrying oil such as this burst in Arkansas recently, and 200,000 gallons flooded streets, lawns and waterways. It's still not cleaned up. Pipeline officials say the leak was in a 60-year-old pipe, so maybe if the new Keystone pipe fails in 60 years, someone else's grandchildren will have to deal with the mess.

Once the tar-oil gets to Texas, it will be refined and auctioned on the international market.

In summary, the Canadians want to transport tar-oil across America, refine it, and sell it on the world market. Is this good for America? I don't think so. — Bruce Barnes, Ashland

The fact that the Jackson County Budget Committee voted, without any warning, to eliminate the OSU Extension Service sent a chill down my spine. Very few local government services provide as much genuine value to rural communities and residents as the Extension Service.

The $200,000 the county invests there annually is leveraged many times over. Don't allow our county commissioners and administrator to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. What of educational and cultural significance will be left here after they've de-funded libraries, the Historical Society and the Extension Service? — Marilyn Hawkins, Ashland

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