Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to the outpouring of support and condolences from the Southern Oregon community to the family of Tabasha Paige-Criado and her four children, murdered this week at their home on West 10th Street. An anonymous local woman stepped forward and enlisted businesses and other support. The Best Western motel on Barnett Road is providing a room for Paige-Criado's brother and his family, the Black Bear Diner is offering meals and Sherm's supermarkets also are assisting. We are constantly heartened by the way this community reaches out to meet the needs of others.

Jeers — to the National Guard, which is denying bonuses to soldiers it promised to pay when they enlisted. In one example, Pfc. Chelsea Wells signed a contract that promised her a $20,000 signing bonus because the Guard was short on intelligence analysts. She was to receive half the money when she completed training and the rest after three years of service.

Not only did the Guard refuse to make the second payment, it demanded that she repay the first installment, saying her position did not qualify for the bonus when she signed the contract. At least five other Oregon soldiers are in a similar situation.

It is unacceptable for the military to offer inducements to attract recruits during a war and then refuse to honor that commitment.

Cheers — and a flick of the Bic to the Britt Festivals and the young musicians taking part in Britt's first-ever Rock Camp this week. Bravo as well to the local professional players who are sharing their experience with the students as instructors. Catch the camp's concluding concert at 3 p.m. today at the old courthouse in Jacksonville. Admission is free.

Jeers — to the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the botched plan to track gun smuggling to Mexican drug cartels that continues to unravel as a congressional committee investigates. The ATF first set out to track guns from U.S. gun shops across the border into Mexico, hoping to dismantle the cartels' gun-smuggling networks. Not only did that plan backfire when the tracing failed and hundreds of weapons turned up at deadly crime scenes, but now it appears some of the cartel figures the ATF hoped to arrest were paid informants for the FBI and the DEA. The latter two agencies apparently never alerted the ATF to this fact.

Cheers — to Nancy Hood, who has spent a jaw-dropping 53 consecutive summers as a solitary lookout watching for wildfires on the Klamath National Forest. That's a national record, according to the U.S. Forest Service and the Forest Fire Lookout Association. The number of staffed fire lookouts has dwindled over the years, but Hood has kept at it, reporting more than 1,300 fires during her career.

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