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Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to state champions: the North Medford High School Black Tornado softball team, which captured the state 6A title, and to the Cascade Christian High School Challengers baseball team, which won the 3A title.

Cheers — to all local high school graduates embarking on the next chapter of their lives this month. Special cheers to those grads profiled in Mail Tribune stories who overcome extra challenges to earn their diplomas: Lily Castillo, paralyzed by a blood clot at 13; Vela Angelle, who fled her mother's chaotic home at 16 and struck out on her own, still managing to finish high school; and Matt Tarazon, who has battled kidney disease all his life and overcame severe depression to earn his diploma.

Jeers — to the apparent disconnect recently between the Rogue Valley's weather and the rest of the country. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday that 2012 has been the warmest on record, with the warmest spring and the second warmest May ever. Except here this week, where the weather gods apparently didn't get the memo.

On the bright side, things look better for the weekend. And not a moment too soon. The tomato plants are waiting.

Cheers — to signs that the local construction industry is starting to rebound after hitting bottom during the recession. Local building contractors report they are scheduled to construct dozens of houses through the summer, up considerably over last year. More construction means more hiring, as well. Business is still a far cry from the boom years, but a turnaround is evident, and that's good news.

Cheers — to a new program at the Veterans Affairs Department's Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics, where specially selected resident veterans will train shelter puppies to be psychiatric therapy dogs for outpatient veterans. The only program of its kind in the VA will offer benefits both for the resident veterans doing the training and for the outpatients who will receive the service dogs when they complete their training.

Cheers — to former State Sen. Lynn Newbry of Talent, who will be honored Sunday in a special ceremony for his long years of service to the community both in and outside the Legislature. Newbry, now 88, served in the Oregon Senate from 1960 to 1974, and later on a varietry of boards and commissions including the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission, the Oregon Transportation Commission and the Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association.