Cheers — to the news that biologists have found steelhead fingerlings hatching in Bear Creek, evidence that streambank rehabilitation efforts and dam removal are making a difference. Dan VanDyke, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Rogue District fish biologist, is recreating a fish survey done during the last drought cycle in 1991, which found no native fish for the 12.5 miles of Bear Creek between Phoenix and the Rogue River. This year, despite drought conditions again gripping the basin, VanDyke found young steelhead in four separate locations.
Jeers — to careless government audits and sloppy reporting and, finally, to the tendency of politicians to go along for the ride, even though the outcome might be legitimate. We speak of the Veterans Affairs Department's report that 50 percent of schedulers at the VA's Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Centers and Clinics said they had been told by supervisors to falsify admitting data.
The truth: Auditors interviewed two schedulers out of 20 at SORCC. One of those answered yes to one question about direction from supervisors. That one person was the "50 percent." CNN then singled out SORCC as "among the worst" facilities in the federal report, and Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley cited the 50 percent figure in arguing for passage of a VA reform bill that now has become law.
Make no mistake: The VA system does need reform, and there is hard evidence of criminal misconduct at a Phoenix, Ariz., VA facility — but not at SORCC. It's unfortunate that the local facility got a black eye for what appears to be a poorly conducted audit.
Cheers — to "Batkid" Miles Scott, the leukemia survivor from Tulelake, Calif., who was granted his wish to be Batman for a day after successful treatment at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Miles now will be the star of a documentary about all the people who came together to make his wish come true in 2013 when he donned a mask and cape and descended upon San Francisco — Gotham City-for-a-day — to save it from evildoers. Filmmaker Dana Nachman say she hopes the film will inspire viewers to do something nice for someone else. So do we.
Cheers — to Abraham Lincoln Elementary School parents for their efforts to raise $50,000 for a new playground to replace one that has seen better days. The group still has $15,000 to go, but organizers are confident they'll reach the goal. Congratulations are in order, too, for the foundations and local businesses who have chipped in with grants and donations. Students helped, too, bringing in coins for a penny drive that added $1,600.