New Year's cheers

As we prepare to ring out 2010 and ring in 2011, we lift our glasses to a number of positive developments in the past week or so.

Cheers — to two $50,000 grants that will help Southern Oregon's innovative Child Abuse Network to continue its valuable work of raising awareness of child abuse and taking steps to prevent future abuse. The money, from the Oregon Community Foundation and the Ford Family Foundation, will pay out over three years.

Cheers — to the reopening of the mill in Rogue River and the 108 jobs it provided as Murphy Co. of Eugene began producing plywood again last week. The restart gives a much-needed boost to the Rogue River community and to the county as a whole.

Cheers also to the news that Northgate Centre is still on track to develop the old Medco mill property at the junction of highways 99, 62 and 238. Backers hope to start construction in 2011 of Alba Village, half of what eventually will become Northgate Centre. Alba Village will feature national retail chains. When complete, the rest of the project will include a light industrial business park and an office park. Progress on what is being called the biggest redevelopment project in Medford's history is a sign the economy is beginning to recover from the recession that threatened Northgate Centre in 2008.

Cheers — to the U.S. Senate for diong the right thing and repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevented gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. The policy resulted in more than 13,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines being involuntarily discharged, a loss of human capital the country could ill afford as it fought two wars.

Cheers — to all those who responded to the Mail Tribune's Light One Candle series of stories in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Many families and individuals saw their holidays brightened by the outpouring of generosity. We continue to marvel at the willingness of this community to help those who need it.

Cheers — to the fledgling Medford Food Project, modeled after the successful operation in Ashland that uses volunteers to collect regular food donations from member contributors and deliver them to food banks. The Ashland Food Project started in 2009, and in its first year, 20 coordinators picked up 3,700 pounds of food every other month from 330 households. Today, 140 coordinators pick up food from 2,170 households, which represents 23 percent of Ashland.

Originator John Javna hopes to replicate that effort in Medford by recruiting at least 25 neighborhood coordinators.

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