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Cheers and jeers

Cheers — to the new bandshell in Blue Heron Park in Phoenix. A team of volunteers began erecting the structure Saturday with donated materials.

The bandshell, which will be the site of future concerts and movies in the park, is a testament to the power of community volunteer efforts. The bandshell and a downtown mural in Talent are part of a two-community improvement project aided by the Ford Family Institute for Community Building. The institute provided leadership training for community members on how to organize and raise funds. The institute then provided grants to match money raised locally.

Jeers — to U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, for letting his personal opposition to abortion for any reason overwhelm his common sense — and to the American Family Association, the social conservative political organization that defended Akin's indefensible statement. Akin said "doctors" had told him that women who are victims of "legitimate rape" (he later claimed he meant to say "forcible rape") rarely get pregnant because their bodies react to the assault by shutting down their reproductive systems. The fact that this is utter fantasy, medically speaking, did not deter Bryan Fischer, executive director of the AFA, from leaping to Akin's defense, saying that the trauma suffered by the victim of a "real, genuine rape, a case of forcible rape," would "make it impossible for her or difficult in that particular circumstance to conceive a child."

Cheers — to Randy Gravon of Central Point and Juli Di Chiro of Ashland, who have announced that 2013 will be their last year as superintendents of their respective school districts. Gravon spent his entire 37-year career in Central Point, starting as a special education teacher at Central Point Elementary School in 1975. Di Chiro came from Southern California 13 years ago to finish her 39-year career at the helm of the Ashland district.

Both educators led their districts through tough budgetary times with perseverance and strong leadership. They can retire with a sense of accomplishment.

Jeers — to the State Board of Higher Education, which saw fit to grant 5 percent salary increases to all but the newest university president at a time when students are facing steadily rising tuition and state employees in general are being asked to do more with less. It's true, all the presidents took voluntary pay cuts from 2008 to 2009. Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan's salary went from $185,460 to $176,928 for one year, then was restored to $185,460 in 2010.

The new increase, along with a "longevity adjustment" of about $10,000, will bring her salary to $205,236. That places her fifth highest of the seven presidents, who will earn between $194,736 and $623,385.