Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to a $7.09 million federal grant that will repair the rail line over the Siskiyou mountains, allowing local shippers to send lumber, fruit and other products to and from California for the first time since 2008. The money from the U.S. Department of Transportation will combine with $2.4 million from the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, which owns the rail line.

Reopening the line will not only boost the local economy and help to create jobs, it will reduce truck traffic on Interstate 5, limiting air pollution and cutting wear and tear on the freeway.

Cheers — to Cody Smith, injured by an enemy bullet in Afghanistan, who has doggedly regained the ability to walk after returning home in a wheelchair. Smith, now 22, was in the news last summer when he returned from six months in militart hospitals to find friends and community members had joined together to build handicapped-accessible living quarters for him at his parents' Ruch home. After working with a physical therapist, he's now capable of driving to Portland by himself — something he recently accomplished — and planning a hunting trip this fall.

Jeers — to a justice system that hasn't been able to thwart a determined career criminal who has been a thorn in the side of local police agencies for more than a decade.

Identity thief Eric One Ziegler has returned to crime every time he's been released from prison — and even robbing his identity theft victims from behind bars. The fact that he has never been convicted of a violent crime has meant his sentences were relatively short, and he qualified for early release from a six-year prison term. Ziegler was recently arrested again, and police hope the system will send him away for an extended period this time.

Cheers — to former state legislator Brady Adams, who walked from Grants Pass to Ashland despite his Parkinson's disease to raise money to make the playground at Parkside Elementary School wheelchair accessible so a disabled 4-year-old boy and other children can play there. Adams, also the former president of Evergreen State Bank, took five days to make the trek.

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