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Thumbs up to Compass House, down to hysteria


heers — to expanded services for people suffering from mental illness, notably Compass House, a new club in Medford where people living with mental illness can gather, and expanded treatment options for mental illness as well, thanks to expanded federal and state funding. While we're at it,

Cheers to local law enforcement agencies for providing Crisis Intervention Training for officers who must confront people who are mentally ill and who may be armed and ready to hurt themselves or other people. The training, provided by Jackson County Mental Health Services, certifies officers in techniques for dealing with people in crisis more effectively. The hope is that potentially violent situations can be defused and resolved without injury or death.

Cheers — to the Britt Festivals Orchestra and new director Teddy Abrams, who drew more than 10,000 patrons with just seven concerts. Attendance jumped 40 percent over the 1,000 per night average over the past decade. Britt CEO Donna Briggs credits Abrams, who added some contemporary works to the mix of traditional favorites and featured nontraditional guest artists Storm Large and Béla Fleck. The classical season outpaced its budget for revenue as well as boosting attendance.

Jeers — to irresponsible commentators who are stoking irrational fear over the Ebola virus and its potential threat to the health of Americans. The disease is virulent and often deadly, and should not be taken lightly. But making wild accusations not based on fact only fuels hysteria. Politicians and others have suggested that immigrant children from Latin America, where Ebola does not exist, could bring the virus across the southern border. In reality, Ebola transmits from a sick person to a healthy one only when the ill person is exhibiting symptoms. And the epidemiological systems in this country are more than up to the task of preventing the spread of the disease.

Cheers — to a new program at Ashland's Helman Elementary School designed to get more children excited about reading. "Read More for Jack Dorr" is the product of reading specialist Rebecca Mizera and fourth-grade teacher Trish Dorr, whose son Jack died of brain cancer in May. The project gets kids to read in Jack's honor, and when the student body reaches 16,500 hours of reading, the school's principal will spend a day sitting on the roof of the school, reading. What a great way to memorialize a classmate and encourage reading at the same time.