Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to real cheese. Students in the Medford, Eagle Point and Phoenix-Talent school districts no longer are being served artificial cheese on their nachos as part of an effort by Sodexo Inc., the company that provides cafeteria service for the three districts. The move is part of Sodexo's efforts to go above and beyond federal nutritional requirements in response to a growing movement toward healthier, fresher food.

Incredible though it may seem, school children haven't said they miss artificial cheese on their nachos. Now, if someone could gently suggest to federal officials that they consider requiring real food in school lunches ...

Jeers — to Oregon House Democrats, who launched an attack on Republican legislative candidates that stretches the bounds of credibility. Future PAC, the campaign arm of the House Democratic Caucus, sent out mailers in targeted House districts accusing three Republican candidates of supporting a 30 percent sales tax. None of the GOP candidates has proposed any sales tax, let alone 30 cents on the dollar.

The Democrats counter that the candidates all are members of or have attended events sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative group that has suggested a national flat tax to replace the income tax.

Things will get silly enough by the time Nov. 2 rolls around. The Democrats are doing themselves no favors by insulting voters' intelligence this way.

Cheers — to Naumes Inc., which has given away a staggering 1 million pounds of fresh fruit nationwide this year, 20,000 pounds of it in the Rogue Valley. The company donates fruit every year to support food banks. In the past seven years, Naumes has given away 10 million pounds of fruit across the country.

Jeers — to suggestions that a resident near Ashland whose lamb was killed by a cougar recently is merely paying the price for "encroaching" on the predator's habitat. The resident in question lives at Billings Farm, which dates back to the 19th century. John Billings, who died last year at 97, lived on the property for 90 years. Certainly, humans have to be aware of natural predators, but the Billings Farm is hardly a recent addition.

Cheers — to contributors who are helping Medford's high schools purchase pianos for their music and theater programs. The fundraising campaign already has raised $24,000 and purchased a piano for the South High theater. Still to come: a new grand piano for North High's Sjolund Auditorium and a piano for the South choir room. You can help support Medford's proud tradition of music education by buying a "part" for a piano. Prices range from $10 for a string to $500 for a lid. To strike a chord for music education, call New Schools, New Pianos Project coordinator Andrea Brock at 541-842-3680.

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