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Griz basketball

Gimmicks can't supplant fan support

Kudos to Rial Cummings for his column (May 1) in the Sports section. The nine members of the Hoops Restoration Project (you've got to be kidding) task force came out with their plans. Cummings is correct. It is a window dressing and not much more. Six categories are listed by the task force.

There will never be student involvement until the seating for students is changed. They were short changed when the renovated arena arranged seating. "The Zoo" was never located in the upper levels of the old arena.

It is difficult to believe that decent scoreboards were not part of the renovation - not to mention offices for the athletic personnel or adequate outdoor lighting at the auxiliary gym. Have you been to a volleyball game there? Be sure and take a flashlight. All this for $13-plus millions? I love the University of Montana pep band, the cheerleaders and the dance team. That is all the entertainment I need at a basketball game.

I believe we lost many loyal fans when the horrible scheduling resulted in both men's and women's teams playing in a high school gym - Sentinel High School. The games there were never sold out.

When seating in the new arena was announced, we found out all of us were displaced. I'm now on the opposite end with seats in the first and second rows of the upper level, a balcony if you please. Because I'm not walking stairs too well these days, those steep ones are not for me. However, when I'm avoiding stairs I'm stopped by an attendant and told I'm not allowed to walk in the front of those seated in the front row to get to my seats - this is a fan friendly ruling?

A reminder: the Lady Griz still has by far the best game attendance record in the Big Sky. Bottom line: winning games helps, but loyal fans must be there in support of their teams.

Adelaine S. Midgett,

141 W. Beckwith, Missoula

Teachers

Say thanks to 700 heroes

Missoula County Public Schools is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week May 6-12. The school district has approximately 700 teachers who serve the students in this community. It is their daily commitment and dedication that helps each and every child learn, and encourages students to develop an interest in lifelong learning. This is also a time to celebrate the careers of 36 teachers who will retire at the end of this school year.

MCPS teachers are not only busy each day teaching, but they also spend time establishing curriculum guidelines, completing training to continually update their skills, learning methods to maintain safer schools, attending committee and staff meetings, and communicating with parents and community members about the needs of students.

I invite parents and community members to stop by Missoula County Public Schools and spend a moment visiting with the teachers that make this district what I believe is the best in Montana.

Mary M. Vagner, superintendent,

Missoula County Public Schools,

215 S. Sixth St. W., Missoula

Politics

Dems, GOP abandon principles

In a recent Missoulian article, Max Baucus says he will vote for passage of George W. Bush's tax cut. It's amazing how far right the Democrats have swung and how far left the Republicans have, all within the past year. Each, of course, has done so by jettisoning major principles of their parties. The Democrats, by allowing reduced funding for Social Security, Medicare, and other essential social programs. The Republicans, by suddenly becoming Keynesians, when their mantra all these years has been how the federal government has been in debt when everyone knows that families and businesses could not operate with high debt. Now that the debt could be retired and so ensure a more stable economy in which to live and do business, Republicans would rather allow more people like Dennis Tito to afford to go into outer space.

It's time for Baucus to stand on the principles for which people elected him and not compromise them just to stay in office. It's time for him to assume a profile in courage and, out of principle, vote against this disastrous tax proposal. It's obvious his constituency has shifted since his last election, and it looks like this will be a hard-fought campaign coming up for him. But, because his constituency has shifted doesn't mean he has to. He can use the time he has left to render magnificent service to his state and country by voting against this proposal. Montana and the country, of course, stand to lose a valuable, respected public servant. He is, after all, the ranking Democrat on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, and his constituency should think long and hard about the consequences of losing him.

David Werner,

701 39th St., No. 7, Missoula

Letters policy: The Missoulian welcomes and encourages letters to the editor on topics of general interest. Letters should be about 300 words or fewer. The Missoulian reserves the right to reject or edit letters for content and length. The Missoulian prints as many letters as possible. Letters must contain the writer's name, address and telephone number (phone numbers are for verification, not publication).

Mail to: Missoulian Letters, P.O. Box 8029, Missoula, MT 59807. Fax: 406-523-5294. E-mail: opinion@missoulian.com.

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