Cheers — to all those who have donated to the ACCESS Food for Hope drive, and a gentle nudge to those who haven't. The annual drive is only about halfway to its goals of 30,000 pounds of food and $30,000 in cash. The food stocks the shelves of the 24 ACCESS food pantries around the county, and the cash buys more food and covers costs such as fuel for trucks and power for freezers. Every dollar contributed will buy 5 pounds of food.
Jeers — to the computer mixup that generated nearly 20,000 incorrect property tax statements to Jackson County property owners his year. The error resulted in underbilling property taxpayers a total of more than $500,000, although individual amounts averaged only about $28. Other taxpayers were overbilled, and will receive refunds. Those owing from underbilling will pay that amount along with their property tax payment next year.
Cheers — to the news that the building formerly housing Ken's Auto in Phoenix will be restored, thanks to an urban renewal grant that was approved just before the former filling station was damaged in a fire Nov. 16. A fundraiser held for business owner Ken Peck also raised $1,400. The building's owners said they would welcome Peck back after the restoration is finished, returning the building to its early-1900s appearance.
Jeers — to city bureaucracy that may prompt a fire-damaged business to relocate rather than reopen in Ashland. Alchemical Solutions' owner says delays he experienced in getting a new liquor license approved by the city after the fire may cause him to move his distillery business elsewhere. That would be an unfortunate outcome in a town that finds it difficult to attract businesses because of high rents.
Cheers — to retiring Jacksonville City Councilor Donna Schatz, who decided not to seek re-election after serving 17 years on the council. Schatz , who was elected four times and beat a recall attempt, gets praise from residents and colleagues who say she was hard-working, thoughtful and conscientious, carefully researching issues before making a decision.
Serving on a city council can be a thankless job, especially in a small town, and those who stick with it as long as Schatz did deserve the gratitude of their constituents.