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Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to the North Medford High School team that took first place in the annual State of Jefferson Scavenger Hunt at Southern Oregon University last week.

Cheers as well to the other three top teams, which posted scores just a few points apart. North's winning score was 108 points, followed closely by Ashland High School with 107, and South Medford and Crater tying for third with 102 points each. The questions, some of which were based on little-known local history, were far from easy.

Cheers — to Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan for being named the recipient of the 2011 Leadership Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's District VIII. The council is an international nonprofit supporting higher education.

Cullinan credited the SOU staff and wider community for helping her with the turnaround effort that led to the award. SOU was facing declining enrollment and shrinking reserves when she took the president's job in 2006; today, the university has posted its highest ever enrollment and is building its reserves to see it through expected state budget cuts.

Jeers — to the way a parking problem was handled by the owner of a downtown Ashland shopping mall. As the Ashland Police Department made clear, Claycomb's Plaza Mall owner Stefanie Claycomb is absolutely within her rights to control parking on her private property. But to suddenly begin towing cars without warning at night when the mall businesses are closed was the wrong way to make her point.

Cheers — to the Medford Food Project, which is off to a roaring start in its efforts to collect items for local food banks. The project is modeled on the Ashland Food Project, which uses volunteer coordinators to collect more than 100,000 pounds of food a year, fulfilling 40 percent of the Ashland Food Bank's needs.

The Medford operation launched just last month, and already has 74 neighborhood coordinators signed up to collect food from more than 500 donors. If you want to be a part of this all-volunteer effort, call 541-210-8288.

Jeers — to some in the media fawning over Super Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended for four games over charges that he sexually assaulted a 20-year-old college student in Georgia. The prosecutor there declined to bring charges, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was sufficiently alarmed to bench Big Ben for a month of Sundays.

Now, as he prepares to lead his team onto the field in the biggest football game of them all, we are subjected to story after story about how he is a changed man. The Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association even voted him a media cooperation award. He wouldn't talk to reporters for months after the assault allegations, but now is Mr. Congeniality.

So Ben has moved past all that "adversity" and is a changed man? We wonder if his alleged victim has moved past her adversity.