Cheers and thanks

Editor's note: In celebration of Thanksgiving, we are eschewing jeers today in favor of a more positive outlook. Our best wishes to our readers, including those who submit their own opinions to these pages and those who prefer just to read the opinions of others. You all contribute to the conversation.

Cheers — to the sound of construction ringing out around the valley. It's not exactly a boom yet, but it's a start. Lithia Motors' new four-story corporate headquarters is a welcome addition to downtown. The Walmart Superstore at the South Gateway is also beginning to take shape, and work on the new Northgate Maketplace retail center is expected to begin soon. All that commotion means jobs, jobs mean money flowing into the local economy, and that's something to be thankful for in these grim economic times.

Cheers — to the Southern Oregon Small Diameter Collaborative, originally known as the Knitting Circle, has received the Public Lands Foundation 2011 Landscape Stewardship Award for its work to bring opposing factions together to resolve conflicts over federal forest management. The group includes academics, environmentalists, timber industry representatives, community residents and land management agency employees.

Projects the group has launched include a Bureau of Land Management forest restoration pilot project in the Applegate Valley, a project near Myrtle Creek in Douglas County and one in Coos County. Each is aimed at preserving trees older than 150 years, harvesting smaller diameter trees for sawmills, staying out of roadless areas, improving forest health and spotted owl habitat and reducing fire danger.

Cheers — to St. Mark's Episcopal Church, which ramped up its food box efforts this year to pick up the slack left by other agencies that were forced to scale back holiday food distributions. Cheers as well to all the churches, social service agencies and individuals who volunteer at this time and all year long to make sure their neighbors who are struggling have a happy holiday season.

At St. Mark's, last year's effort produced 200 food boxes, complete with a turkey in each, for families identified by three west-side elementary schools, the Family Nurturing Center and a county agency working with single mothers. This year, church volunteers turned out more than 300 boxes.

Cheers — to the response of the Lincoln community on the Greensprings to the theft of a local resident's specially modified bicycle. Longtime Lincoln resident Dave Willis, who lost all his fingers to frostbite, relied on the bike to get around the mountain community. When news of his loss spread, local residents immediately started a collection to replace the bike, and the local bike builder who created the original cycle volunteered to construct the replacement.

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