Cheers and jeers

Thumbs up to rescue, street upgrade; down to time-wasting legislation

Cheers — to happy endings, such as the story of a skier lost on Mount Ashland overnight who was rescued unharmed the next day. Carol Koon, 52. of Chiloquin, set off to ski the Bowl Sunday afternoon about 2 p.m. Worried family members reported her missing at 4:47 p.m. as a storm moved in with blowing snow and temperatures in the low 20s. Searchers combed the mountain that night without success. Koon had skied down the south side of the mountain, away from the ski area, but found a horse corral and shelter where she hunkered down for the night. The next morning, she managed to make a cellphone call to her husband and rendezvous with searchers who took her back to the lodge in a Sno-Cat. After making the mistake that got her lost, Koon did everything right to survive her ordeal.

Jeers — to efforts in Salem to push inconsequential legislation that wastes not only lawmakers' time but taxpayers' money as well.

Exhibit 1: A bill to declare brewer's yeast the official state microbe. We know, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is essential to the production of ales — and craft breweries are a vibrant and growing sector of the state's economy. But really. One lawmaker actually questioned whether brewers of lagers, which use a different yeast, might object — as many berry growers did last session when the marionberry was proposed as the state berry.

Exhibit 2: A pair of bills sponsored by Medford's Rep. Sal Esquivel. One would require all school districts in the state to display the American flag in every classroom and make time every day for students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The other would require five of seven appointees to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission to have held a hunting, fishing or shellfish license for at least five years. Esquivel originally wanted a 10-year requirement for all appointees, but learned that would disqualify all but two current commissioners.

Schools have enough to do — and spend money on — without accommodating yet another top-down pronouncement from Salem. Local control used to be something legislators defended. As for the Fish and Wildlife Commission, that body deals with wildlife that isn't necessarily hunted or caught. And the notion that only a licensed hunter or angler can be a good commissioner is, frankly, offensive.

It's not just that these bills are less than earth-shaking in importance. Every piece of legislation introduced has to be drafted into legal language, reviewed for its legal and financial effects, printed and distributed — all at public expense.

Cheers — to a $1.1 million upgrade to a portion of Front Street in Central Point that will make the more inviting for pedestrians and bicycles and enhance the experience of visiting the Rogue Creamery, Lillie Belle Farms chocolates and the Ledger David Cellars wine-tasting room, among other businesses. The road project will add wide sidewalks, trees, a planted median strip and lighting between Crater High School and Pine Street. City officials also have requested a speed limit reduction from 40 mph to 30 mph to calm traffic.

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