Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to the State Farm Summer Concert Series in Medford's Bear Creek Park. Judging by the huge opening night crowd Wednesday for the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, this year's series should be one to remember. The Eugene-based swing band wowed the crowd, and the weather was ideal. Upcoming acts include The Airlines and The Nautics, reggae band The Babylon Saints, singer-songwriter Jen Ambrose and Ashland's own alt-country ensemble One Horse Shy. Hats off to State Farm and the numerous other sponsors who are making this free series possible.

Cheers — to Mike and Kisa McGoffin and the other residents who are working to bring the Ashland Food Network concept to Medford. The idea is simple: Build a network of residents who buy one extra food item per week and organize volunteers to collect the food twice a month and deliver it to a local food bank. The Ashland project already contributes half of the Ashland Food Bank's supply. The collection on June 19 netted more than 9 tons of food. Talent residents also are organizing a project based on the Ashland model.

Jeers — and a sigh of relief — at the carelessness of a young Washington man who tried to climb Mount Shasta on Monday in shorts, a T-shirt and tennis shoes. He slipped on the ice and slid down the mountain, and his climbing companions were unable to help him because they were inexperienced and lacked any climbing gear. Fortunately for him, he suffered only abrasions, but the outcome could have been much worse. Mount Shasta is not a day hike.

Cheers — to the Medford School District for working to allow special education students to remain in the same school for their elementary years. Most students with special needs have moved three times during elementary school, and some more often. A story in Wednesday's Mail Tribune described one girl who moved five times.

Beginning next fall, students will be able to stay at one school. The new stability was made possible by recent construction and renovation funded by the voter-passed school bond measure in 2006. District staff have been working on the new configuration of special-education programs since December.

Cheers — to a group of volunteers who will collect water samples from Ashland Creek this summer in an effort to track the course of bacterial contamination that makes the creek unsafe for wading. City officials know E. coli bacteria enter the creek within Lithia Park, but not precisely where. City workers monitor the level in the water and post signs warning the public to avoid contact.

This summer's project, co-sponsored by the city, involves trained volunteers with scientific backgrounds. Organizers say they probably won't find all sources of the contamination and fix it this year, but it's a start.

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