Cheers and jeers

Thumbs up to levy campaign, Greenway; down to off-base community description

Cheers — to supporters of the serial levy for Applegate Valley Fire District No. 9, renewed by voters Nov. 5. In an off year, when the levy was the only item on the ballot, supporters managed to generate a turnout of more than 50 percent of district voters, who handily approved the levy to maintain 24-hour staffing of the main firehouse. They did it the old-fashioned way: They went door to door, explaining the need for continued funding, and the voters responded.

Jeers — to the news that Jackson County can be characterized as a "college town." A color-coded map of the United States compiled by Dante Chinni, a journalist and author of "Patchwork Nation," assigned one of 15 categories to every county in the country for the American Communities Project at American University. Thanks to a mention on the The Washington Post's website, you may have seen the item floating around on Facebook or elsewhere on the Internet.

According to Chinni, Jackson County is in the "College Towns" category because, among other things, "More than a third of the 17.9 million people in these 154 counties, clustered around college campuses outside big cities, have bachelor's degrees or higher."

Except that, according to the Census Bureau, the proportion of Jackson County residents with at least a bachelor's degree actually is 23.7 percent — less than a quarter, not more than a third. Ashland is certainly a college town, but to extend that to Jackson County as a whole is a stretch to say the least.

Cheers — to the latest expansion of the Bear Creek Greenway, extending the bike/pedestrian path from East Pine Street to Upton Road at the north end of the Jackson County Expo. When the project is complete next month, the Greenway will boast nearly 20 miles of uninterrupted pathway. The latest addition also will provide foot and bicycle access to the Expo for the first time.

It's been a long road since the Greenway's beginnings in the 1970s, and the work isn't finished yet. Eventually, plans call for a trail from Emigrant Lake to the Rock Point Bridge on the Rogue River, where the path will intersect the Rogue River Greenway.

Hats off to all those who worked and continue to work to secure grants and other funding for this community project.

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