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MailTribune.com
  • Cheers and jeers

    Cheers for city street work, a big donor and OSF; jeers for BLM funding snafu
  • Cheers: To the city of Medford Public Works Department, which despite the often uninformed criticism it has received is doing the right thing in using a new method to repave city streets.
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  • Cheers: To the city of Medford Public Works Department, which despite the often uninformed criticism it has received is doing the right thing in using a new method to repave city streets.
    It's summer, so it should come as no surprise that paving crews are out. But some area residents were surprised by the "cape seal" treatment being used to resurface asphalt streets. Because the process involves several steps, some jumped the gun with their complaints when they encountered the rocky first stage.
    By now, most of the rock has been covered by the seal that gives the road a smooth ride. For the most part, you'd be hard-pressed to find much difference between the result and the typical asphalt overlay that we've become accustomed to.
    There is one big difference, however: Laying asphalt costs about $135,000 per lane mile, while cape seal costs about $40,000 per lane mile. The cape seal treatments last about 12 years, as opposed to 15 for asphalt, but as Medford Public Works Director Cory Crebbin has noted, "You're basically getting 80 percent of the life for 30 percent of the cost."
    To us, that sounds like a good deal — and a good use of tax dollars.
    Jeers: To the Bureau of Land Management, which gave 18 Oregon counties bad information on how much money they would receive in a federal safety net program.
    The 18 O&C Counties of Western Oregon have discovered they will get only $40 million in their final payment under the program that is supposed to help offset revenue losses due to declining timber harvests. They had expected $51.6 million.
    Jackson County will receive about $5 million instead of the $7 million budgeted. County Administrator Danny Jordan says that won't immediately affect services because the county has stashed away a substantial rainy day fund. But the loss of $2 million will be felt, sooner or later.
    For the federal government, the difference of $11.6 million is no big deal — in fact, it seemed so inconsequential that the BLM failed to notify counties of the reduction for months. But out here in the real world, where critical health, safety and planning services are provided by local governments, it's a very big deal.
    Cheers: To Georgia and her anonymous owner, who stepped up with a $75,000 donation to the Southern Oregon Humane Society when it ran into financial difficulties. Georgia is a hound of uncertain parentage who obviously connected with her new owner after she was adopted four years ago from the Humane Society.
    So on Wednesday, Georgia and friend made their way to the Medford animal haven to present their check. It comes at an opportune time, as the society tries to extricate itself from a financial quagmire that just a few weeks ago threatened its very existence.
    But people, sometimes through their pets, have stepped up, already donating $150,000 of the $500,000 the Humane Society needs to collect over the next year. It turns out that sometimes man can be a dog's best friend.
    Cheers: To the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and its many supporters, who came together to pull OSF through a trying six weeks after the emergency closure of the Bowmer Theatre.
    The Bowmer was temporarily closed June 18 when OSF employees discovered that a main roof beam was badly cracked. That could have proven disastrous, as the 600-seat Bowmer is the principal indoor stage for the festival. But organizations and individuals, both within OSF and the community at large, stepped up to make sure the plays would go on.
    And they did — in a local armory, on a college stage, in a Medford theater and in a huge tent erected in Lithia Park. It was an ad-libbed adventure and the festival pulled it off in grand style, thanks in no small part to the support of the community.
    The Bowmer reopened earlier this week. The festival will no doubt feel some financial sting from the closure, but it also should feel the love and respect it received from so many sources.
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