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Finally, a quiet church decision

In the end, residents will get a project redesigned for their benefit

And so it ends, not with fireworks or a drum roll but with a quiet little meeting and a committee's unanimous vote.

After six years of fighting, the plan for Jacksonville Presbyterian's new church got the blessing of the city's Historic and Architectural Review Committee Wednesday.

Finally.

This was never the case some wanted to make it out to be. Supporters of building the church in the 40-home Pheasant Meadows subdivision sought to turn the argument into a constitutional one when Jacksonville's City Council tried to address traffic concerns by proposing limits on church activities.

Claiming that the council was stepping into the sticky waters of church and state separation gave supporters something juicy to hang their arguments on, sure, but restricting religion was never the council's intent. It was just trying to make the project work for the neighborhood. It may not always have been graceful in its pursuit of that goal, but it was consistent.

Churches are usually just the kind of neighbors we'd all like to have ' clean, mostly quiet, respectful. The Presbyterians will bring in more traffic than other neighbors would, but they have taken pains to make the intrusion as minimal as it can be.

— And any opponent of the project should take consolation in the fact that the length of the debate has provided Pheasant Meadows with a better plan than it started with. Recent design changes mean the church will consist of three relatively small buildings instead of one large one, and they will be designed with Jacksonville's historic look in mind.

The project still may present concerns to subdivision neighbors. But after all, do any of us really know what we're getting when a new neighbor moves in down the street?

With the church, Pheasant Meadows residents know more than most: that they're getting a responsible neighbor who's bent over backward to fit in.

That ought to be good enough.

Drivers needed

With gas prices climbing daily, Food & Friends, a local meal-delivery agency for seniors, is worried about having enough volunteer drivers to make deliveries to seniors in Jackson and Josephine counties. Rogue Valley residents with the resources to help out should consider doing so.

About 100 volunteers deliver meals to 600 seniors in the two counties. The volunteers drive their own cars about 100,000 miles annually, providing a much-needed service for the elderly in Southern Oregon. With the rising cost of gas, all that mileage is getting expensive.

Volunteers are reimbursed 32.5 cents per mile. Some drivers are committed enough to refuse reimbursement and donate the money to the program.

With gas prices in the neighborhood of &

36;2.30 a gallon, we hope anyone interested in helping will call Food & Friends at 664-6676, Ext. 208.