Cheers and jeers

Thumbs up to The Commons, honors college; down to a pandering politician

Cheers — to the debut of the first park block in The Commons, which was host to food vendors' booths during the Pear Blossom Festival on Saturday. The new gathering space drew positive reviews from community members. It was a glimpse of things to come, too — the second of the two park blocks hasn't been finished yet, and will add more space and an outdoor stage for entertainment as well. It's all part of the revitalization of downtown Medford into a place people want to visit.

Cheers — to Southern Oregon University's new Honors College — a chance for outstanding academic students to reap some of the rewards athletes have come to expect, such as help with tuition. The new program will accept 25 students per year to a maximum of 100, and will feature an accelerated curriculum. SOU officials hope the program will encourage students to stay at SOU rather than quitting school or transferring elsewhere after their first year.

Jeers — to U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who recklessly speculated about the Boston Marathon bombing to justify his opposition to immigration reform.

"Some of the speculation that has come out is that yes, it was a foreign national and, speculating here, that it was potentially a person on a student visa," King said Tuesday in an interview with National Review Online. "If that's the case, then we need to take a look at the big picture."

If, sure. But when King made his unspeakably irresponsible remarks, no one — not the FBI, not Homeland Security, and least of all King — had any idea who might have set off the bombs that killed three people and injured more than 140 on Monday. The perpetrator was just as likely to have been an American citizen for all he knew, but that didn't stop him from pandering to the least common denominator of his political supporters.

Cheers — to Nike the Labrador retriever, and his trainer and handler, Paul Foster, who won the national Top Amateur Retriever prize and seven American Kennel Club-sanctioned field trials — unheard of for a 3-year-old dog and the third-highest seasonal finish in the history of national amateur retriever competitions. Foster and Nike will be honored Friday, April 26, when Medford hosts the 29th annual Nestle Purina Outstanding Retriever Awards Banquet.

Cheers — to Crater High School and Southern Oregon University graduate Joseph Yungen, selected for the only open position in the doctoral program at The Juilliard School in New York City. Yungen will earn master's degrees in solo piano performance and collaborative piano performance next month from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. He joins a number of Southern Oregon products who have taken their musical gifts to great heights.

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