Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to the news that chinook salmon are spawning in large numbers along stretches of the Rogue River once inhospitable because of water and silt trapped behind two dams. Three years after Gold Ray Dam was removed, the silt has washed away and state fisheries biologists counted 111 identifiable redds, or egg nests, created by spawning chinook. Upstream of the site of Savage Rapids Dam, removed in 2009, the count was 186 redds, up dramatically from three years ago.

Seeing the native fish return to former spawning grounds is heartening.

Cheers — to Vi Davis, who managed the Jacksonville Senior Center's thrift store for almost 20 years, accumulating $140,000 toward a new community center. Davis was tapped to organize and operate the thrift store in 1994 when it started, and put her experience as a bank manager to good use. She was honored for her volunteer service in a recent Jacksonville City Council meeting.

Jeers — to the pathetic performance of the Cover Oregon website, which was supposed to allow Oregonians to shop and sign up for health insurance under the national health care reform law. Despite Oregon officials' wholehearted embrace of the reforms, Oregon has the worst record in the country for its performance, having signed up not a single person since the site launched Oct. 1. In general, states that resisted the national health care law and left it up to the federal government to create health exchanges are performing worse than states that created their own systems. But Oregon officials failed miserably to get this state's system up and running. As a result, residents are being urged to file applications on paper, which takes much longer to process.

The state's expansion of Medicaid, the low-income health insurance system, is faring much better. But that process is much simpler because the state simply announced that anyone enrolled in the food stamp program was automatically eligible.

Cheers — to the new bike path the city of Medford plans to built along Larson Creek near Barnett Road. The path will stretch from the Bear Creek Greenway path east to North Phoenix Road. Bike paths running east and west in Medford are sorely lacking, forcing those who want to pedal across town to use bike lanes on busy arterials. The proposed Larson Creek Greenway will help to remedy that situation.

Cheers — to St. Mary's School students acting as mentors to younger counterparts at VIBES Public Charter School. The program that began as a one-hour-a-week commitment for 12 weeks has expanded as the St. Mary's students enthusiastically extended the time they spend with the VIBES students, many of whom face life challenges that threaten their social and educational development.

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