Cheers — to the fire crews that kept the Pacifica fire away from structures all weekend near Williams in Josephine County. Gov. John Kitzhaber declared the blaze a conflagration on Friday, allowing statewide resources to be deployed to protect property. The Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office sent 95 people and 24 pieces of equipment to help fight the fire. In all, 200 firefighters responded from Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion counties.
The fire burned 500 acres, several outbuildings and just one vacant home, while 150 homes were saved.
Cheers — to the volunteers who turn out monthly to clean headstones in Jacksonville's Historic Cemetery. The work restores the engraving on the stones and prevents further damage that can result if moss and other growth remains on the stones. Some of the grave markers in the pioneer cemetery date back more than 150 years.
Jeers — to the news that some top military officers live in palatial mansions maintained by taxpayers while the Pentagon continues furloughs that slash the pay of 650,000 civilian employees. The mansions cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain, often including staffs of domestic servants. While the dollars involved are dwarfed by the cost of the high-tech weaponry the military uses, such a disparity between the living standards of top brass, enlisted personnel and the civilian workforce reflects badly on this nation's armed forces.
Cheers — to a bill passed in the recent legislative session that restores critical funding to the Jackson County Justice Court. The Justice Court had suffered a severe drop in revenue after a 2011 bill reduced some traffic fines and changed the share of the fines that went to the state.
A Class C violation — the most common type — carried a $190 fine, with the state taking $45 of it and the county the rest. The 2011 legislation dropped the fine to $160, and the state took $60.
The intent was to standardize fines and revenue sharing across the state, but the result was a loss of more than half a million dollars to Jackson County. That threatened not only the Justice Court but also the Sheriff's Department traffic team, formed to reduce the county's large number of traffic deaths.