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Our community is very grateful to have two incoming Ravalli County Commissioners who recognize the value of a county family planning clinic. Ray Hawk and Doug Schallenberger have pledged to restore Title X funding that the clinic runs on. We know they are honorable men whose word is their bond.

We clearly recognize that some Bitterroot residents and politicians have legitimate reservations about Title X funds and "strings attached." But even with the strings, the good that's done far outweighs any bad. This is borne out by the facts and testimony supplied by the dedicated professionals who ran the clinic for years, and the many private citizens who gave very personal testimonials at public meetings.

Several hundred people – friends, family, neighbors of ours – relied on the clinic for their family planning needs. It was a crucial resource that supplied pre- and post-natal care, caught disease early (including cancer) and simply saved lives. It helped keep mothers and babies healthy. The clinic served as a true lifeline for many hard-working, modest-income residents, women and men.

When funding was voted down narrowly, community members stepped up with private funds and enormous volunteer labor to provide similar services at the Ravalli Women's Wellness Center. Thank you so much! This interim solution was never meant to be permanent, so we need to restore full funding as soon as possible next year.

In the past we have consistently gotten support for the clinic's Title X funding from commissioners J.R. Iman and Greg Chilcott. We thank you both for that and know you'll continue doing the right thing for our community as a whole. Please join the incoming commissioners by once again voting to fund the county's family planning clinic. Likewise, we hope Commissioner Ron Burrows will support this critical service that serves hundreds of Ravalli County residents.

Van P. Keele,

Hamilton

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