Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to the wind and rain that cleared smoke from the valley's air and help firefighters gain ground on the wildfires that have been raging for weeks. The Whiskey Complex near Tiller is now 100 percent contained, the Douglas Complex was nearly 90 percent contained as of Tuesday, and the Big Windy Complex was 40 percent contained.

Fire season isn't over by a long shot, and smoky skies could return, but it was great to get some relief over the weekend. Our thanks to the fire crews for their hard work.

Jeers — to the thinking — or lack thereof — on the part of U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials who apparently never dreamed that restoring 420 acres of marshes — essentially standing water — might encourage mosquitoes to breed. Breed they did, and residents in and around Bandon have paid the price by being eaten alive.

To the agency's credit, it has moved swiftly for a federal agency to address the problem, approving a spraying program — but the USFWS has no money to pay for it.

Cheers — to the launch of Kids Unlimited's new VIBES Public Charter School, which got under way more than a week before the rest of Medford schools. The ambitious school features small classes, longer school days and extra enrichment designed to help low-income and at-risk students succeed.

Cheers — to Matt Hankey, the former skateboarding standout who suffered a paralyzing stroke more than a year ago. Although doctors told him he might never speak again and would live with a tracheotomy for the rest of his life, his strong will and hard work have allowed him to lose the trach and to learn to speak again. He is determined to continue his recovery and even skate again one day.

Cheers — to members of Monte Bischoff Racing, a local dirt-track racing team, who leaped into action when they saw a car veer off Interstate 5 and burst into flames near Roseburg early Sunday.

Not content just to call for help, the racers used bottled water, sodas and ice from their cooler to beat back flames from the burning car when their fire extinguisher wouldn't work. They broke a window and used a crowbar to pry out the driver, then resorted to throwing dirt on the returning flames until emergency crews arrived.

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