Letter to the Editor:
This letter is addressing the students’ concerns on the issue of the cut of the second band teacher at the high school. In our band we have 100 students, 1 full time and 1 split time instructor and have six separate ensembles: the wind ensemble, symphonic band, Marching Jays, pep band, and two jazz bands. Our instructors also work with the musical productions.
A main aspect of the band program is regular weekly lessons; these lessons make up 50% of what our instructors do. Each lesson is 1 mod long, half an hour (that’s 50 hours a week). Our teachers cover tone, technique, and rhythm in these lessons. We practice music that we are preforming in class for our concerts, solos for local, district, and state solo and ensemble. The face to face lessons are essential for the band to function. Band is the only class other than choir offered at Merrill high school that is interdependent, and we need every student to be at his/her best so that the band can be the best. We have a tradition of having a high quality band program; the community knows this. To maintain this high quality of a band program we need two teachers to give us these lessons. 
With these cuts, we have been considering possible options: one being to use our Smart music systems on the computer. The reason we cannot do this is because you cannot see the technique being used in the audio recording. Lessons need to be face to face. The second option would be to go to an every other week lesson schedule but then comes the problem of bad habits being practiced and not caught and then having to relearn and break those habits that could have been prevented a week earlier. The fact of the matter is that the frequency of instruction is the key to the quality of the performance.
We as students are being affected far more than the staff. The proposed staff can cover the classes and the classroom but quality would have to be sacrificed. Every year we have 4 or more students who go on to universities to major or minor in music. These students are able to succeed in the entrance auditions because of the high quality of our band program and the individual attention received. 
Surprisingly the number of band students has not changed in the past years regardless of decreasing enrollment, so the cuts to our program are uncalled for.  We do not place the band program as being of greater importance than other programs facing cuts.  All reductions in the opportunities available to our students affect the quality of education.  Please join us at the school board meeting on Wednesday, July 16 at 5 p.m. at the MAPS central office building.
On behalf of the Merrill High School band students,
Morgan Norton
Merrill

Letter to the Editor:
Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) marketing unless it is advertised to help quit smoking.
A recent study published in Pediatrics, the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, looked at trends in youth and young adult exposure to e-cigarette television advertisements in the United States.
Youth exposed to television e-cigarette ads went up 256% from 2011 to 2013. Young adult exposure increased 321% over the same period. More than 76% of all e-cigarette commercials were seen on popular cable networks such as AMC, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, WGN America, TV Land and VH1. The ads were mostly from one e-cigarette brand.
Ads for traditional cigarettes have been banned from TV since 1971. A proposed rule, released this past April by the FDA, would ban the sale to minors of tobacco products that are currently not regulated. This includes e-cigarettes as well as cigars and pipe tobacco. The rule would also require ingredient listings, warning labels and federal approval. Limits of marketing and advertising are currently not part of the proposed rule.
Among other health concerns with e-cigarettes is that nicotine is addictive as well as the aerosols that are produced. It contains metal (i.e. tin, chromium and nickel) and other chemicals (i.e. formaldehyde, toluene and diethylene glycol).
As stated earlier, the FDA proposal doesn’t include restrictions on marketing. If advertising continues for e-cigarettes as it has been, awareness and use of e-cigarettes are likely to increase among youth and young adults. For more information on the proposal, visit the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/ucm388395.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
Sincerely,
Tammi Boers
Lincoln County 
Health Educator

Letter to the Editor:
We’re celebrating big time the 4th of July and the founding of this marvelous Democracy!  
We rejoice in its beauty – especially here in the North Woods:  natural forests, clear streams and rivers, pure air to breathe. Clean water and clean air are necessary for healthy living and sustainable progress - certainly goals we cherish. Now is our chance to confirm these values with our voice in Congress. Fortunately Kelly Westlund from Ashland is a candidate for the 7th District seat.  
It is surprising and sad that our current congressman just doesn’t get our connection to sustainable progress and environmental protection. Just one week – one week of votes in the House and Sean Duffy votes against environmental safeguards  in every bill. The tally of votes in the Sunday Milwaukee  Journal Sentinel (6/29/14)  lists 1. HR3301  - Duffy voted to weaken environmental reviews of pipeline projects between the United States and Canada. Enbridge Corporation has line 61 carrying tar sands oil, diluted with toxic chemicals, through Wisconsin from Superior to Delavan and is looking to expand the capacity.  Enbridge has a history of spills in Wisconsin and Michigan. Many of our rivers (including the Wisconsin), flowages, prime farmland and populated communities are in danger! In another vote on this same bill Duffy agreed there was no stopping the approval of pipelines that could rupture and spill chemicals into the Great Lakes or the Ogallala Aquifer.  
 2. And what about natural gas? We just went through torture last winter with the high cost of natural gas – yet Duffy votes for HR 6 “to require quick action by the Department of Energy on U. S. firms’ application to export natural gas to Europe and elsewhere.” (MJS). This bill dismisses arguments that it would short circuit the public interest review process. There go our reserves. And in another vote on this bill – that this export deal was NOT to consider the cost and hardship  that this would put on our US/Wisconsin consumers nor consider whether this export would be to countries that harbor terrorist. So much for our efforts to work for energy independence from foreign oil!
 Wait! 3. There was one more bill last week – HR 4899. Duffy voted to authorize drilling in California, Virginia and South Carolina where it is now banned for environmental reasons. And this is just one week on the Hill…
Now here’s the good news: Kelly Westlund  will speak up for the environment;  she has a background in environmental issues and is connected to our values. She will listen to us and work for our concerns. Kelly could use your vote on August 12 in the Primary election and November 4.  Let’s reach out for sustainable, healthy progress - including stewardship of the earth.  
Judy Weaver
Merrill