Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to State Farm Insurance for sponsoring Celebrate My Drive events here and across the country that encouraged young motorists not to text and drive.

Medford's event, in Hawthorne Park Saturday, featured a shopping-cart time trial, in which teenage drivers were challenged to steer a cart through an obstacle course while texting on their cell phones. Teenagers in attendance were urged to sign a pledge not to text and drive.

Of course, State Farm has a vested interest in reducing car crashes, but we thank the company for helping make the rest of us that much safer. And we, too, promise not to text and drive.

Jeers — to assurances last spring from Ashland Community Hospital chief executive Mark Marchetti that nothing would change if California-based, Catholic Church-affiliated Dignity Health entered into a partnership with the hospital.

When concerns were raised about Dignity's policies toward abortion and physician-assisted suicide, Marchetti told an Ashland Daily Tidings reporter in April that none of the services ACH currently provides to its patients would be compromised if an agreement was reached with Dignity. Now, after public meetings with Dignity officials, that turns out not to be entirely accurate.

Dignity hospitals do not perform abortions. ACH does not now perform abortions, so technically speaking, Marchetti's statement was correct. But the hospital would not be able to add that service in the future if Dignity were its partner.

ACH does not "provide" physician-assisted suicide, either, but that's beside the point because it does not typically take place in a hospital but at the terminally ill patient's home. However, Dignity policy forbids doctors it employs from writing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs, so if Dignity operated ACH, patients of the hospital's doctors could not obtain a prescription from them.

Cheers — to Pictures of Hope, a Chevrolet-sponsored program that sends a photojournalist into homeless shelters to help homeless children capture their dreams on camera. The local class, with TC Chevrolet supplying the cameras, took place at the Salvation Army's Hope House, a transitional shelter in Medford.

Photographer Linda Solomon of Detroit created the program to build self-esteem among children living in homeless shelters.

Cheers — to Cornelio Gonzales, a 26-year-old Bolivian from an impoverished village, and to the Ashland couple who are making it possible for him to study in England for a master's degree in international development to add to his Southern Oregon University degree in international studies. Larry Buchanan, the geologist who discovered a rich silver deposit under Gonzales' village, and his wife, Karen Gans, worked to make sure the villagers were relocated properly and their needs met in their new homes. They agreed to help Gonzales come to Ashland to learn English, putting him up in their home while he studied at SOU.

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