This week's letters include Boy Scout derby races and a sobering account on the cost of health care.

Pinewood Derby is a Cub Scout tradition

"I want gold," said my 6-year-old daughter, Lily.

"That's OK, I want silver," replied her brother, 9-year-old Riley.

My kids were picking out the color of spray paint that would cover their now-cut-and-sanded blocks of wood as they built cars for this year's Pinewood Derby.

I'm the Cub Master for Cub Scout Pack #566 in Hillsboro. The race was held on Saturday, Jan. 20, in the gymnasium at Jackson Elementary School. The derby took the place of the pack's regular meetings which are most third Wednesdays.

Riley, a member of Den 1 Bears, was defending a first-place-in-den showing from last year. Last year's sleek green car has been replaced by the new silver one with a familiar wedge shape. Lily is in Girl Scouts but comes to the derby as a sibling and is allowed to make and race a car in the open class, usually against other sisters (many of them also in the same Girl Scout troop). Girls will be allowed to join Cub Scouts later this year, so next year, we should see cars built by girls competing head-to-head with the boys' cars.

The pack is active in the community. Last month, they made Christmas ornaments from pinecones and pipe cleaners and then brought them to a local care facility while singing carols for the residents. Last year, they won an award for their entry in the Hillsboro Fourth of July parade. The pack's leadership committee is also planning to put on a bicycle rodeo during the summer where kids can learn about bicycle safety.

While the pack's original charter date is Oct. 1, 1990, the Pinewood Derby got its start in 1953, when a Cub Master in California found an alternative to the Soap Box Derby that fathers of younger sons could enjoy together. The cars are built by the children, with help from adults, from kits including a block of wood, wheels and axels. The blocks are made from ponderosa pine logs from Idaho and the kits are assembled in Indiana.

Adult volunteers have opened up their garages and workbenches to give the kids an opportunity to use tools that some do not have available to them. The most important thing about the Pinewood Derby is building the bond between the kids and their adult partners.

While neither of my kids got their cars on the winner's podium this year, they had fun and are thinking about what they want to change to make an even faster and better-looking car for next year.

Daniel Phillips, Hillsboro

State of health insurance is deeply wrong
At 60 years of age working two jobs with OK insurance, I come to find out that I've had a crown fail and I'm going to lose a molar, a pretty major tooth by all standards. After years of proper dental care, apparently it happens.

My options are live with this new hole in my mouth that makes consuming food miserable or get a single tooth implant at a cost of $4,500 — which is more than I could hope to afford.

Over the years, the cost of implants has actually gone up as the manufacturing of these devices is controlled by three companies and the price is fixed, which bridges on collusion.

There is something wrong when you have worked your entire life but are told by your insurance company that this molar bridges on a cosmetic device and they refuse to even pay for part of this necessary implant. I never thought I'd get to the point in my life where I would have to accept losing a major tooth and be forced to just live with it. Something is wrong with this system.

James Maass, Beaverton

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