Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to the news that the Mt. Ashland Ski Area will hang on after lack of snow prevented it from opening for the first time in its history. A "lifeline loan" of $750,000 from the Small Business Administration will help the community-owned resort stay afloat for next season, which with any luck will be better than this one.

Cheers — to a proposal to move the Jacksonville City Hall into the historic Jackson County Courthouse, which was operated as a museum by the Southern Oregon Historical Society for decades. The county transferred the building to the city of Jacksonville in 2012.

The building is the county's original courthouse, built in 1883 when Jacksonville was the county seat. Its magnificent architecture and solid construction should serve the city well as long as renovation and seismic upgrades do not cost too much.

Cheers — to new research that found signs of autism in children's brains, indicating strongly that autism spectrum disorders begin before birth. Researchers still do not know what causes the abnormalities in brain tissue, but what does not should be obvious: vaccinations given to children after birth. No cheers at the results of a new survey indicating one in five Americans still believes vaccines cause autism, and further that nearly half of Americans subscribe to at least one of the many medical conspiracy theories circulating in recent years.

Jeers — to three members of an elite team of Secret Service agents who were sent home from Amsterdam after a night of heavy drinking a day before President Obama arrived on an official visit to the country. The agents are part of the Counter Assault Team, a highly trained unit responsible for fighting off an armed attack on the president or his motorcade while other agents remove the president from danger.

This is the second incident in the past two years involving Secret Service personnel engaging in unprofessional conduct while in foreign countries, reflecting badly on the United States and potentially placing the president at greater risk.

Cheers — to the news that the number of dog owners in Jackson County licensing their pets is on the increase after a new ordinance requiring veterinarians to report rabies vaccinations to the county. Dog license fees support the county's Animal Care and Control department, which operates the animal shelter, rounds up stray animals and works to reunite loose pets with their owners.

Despite the promising trend, only about 40 percent of dog owners who received a notice of noncompliance responded by buying a license. Those who didn't should reconsider; county officials may impose fines if the voluntary approach isn't having the intended result.

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