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Up to kids, deputy; down to mining

Cheers — To students at Griffin Creek Elementary School, who decided to forgo the usual food drive and collect money instead to buy gifts for children served by the Maslow Project, a local agency that serves homeless families and youths. Students were asked to contribute $1 each, and some gave more, so the school ended up collecting nearly $400, and student council members bought gifts for 23 children. The students felt more of a connection to those they were helping — "you get to know that it's going to someone like you," one remarked — and were able to see the power of pooling small contributions.

Cheers — to another group of Medford students, the student council at Hedrick Middle School. The 50-plus students decided swearing and name-calling in the hallways and other public spaces had gotten out of hand. So they launched a "Wash Away Bad Language" campaign, wearing bars of soap on strings around their necks every Tuesday as a reminder. The students are collecting pledges from classmates who promise to keep their language clean. Those pledging add a bubble with their name on it to the campaign's poster in the school hallway.

Jeers — to the notion that the upper reaches of the Smith River watershed in southeastern Curry County are a good place to mine nickel. An international mining company has asked the state for permission to draw water from an unnamed tributary of the Smith so it can conduct test drilling, which could lead to proposed mining. Mining could threaten one of California's largest undammed rivers, the truly pristine Smith, which is home to wild fish runs and supplies water to communities downstream. The Oregon Water Resources Department has denied the application to divert water, in part because it is not in the public interest. The company vows to challenge the denial. Stay tuned.

 Cheers — to Klamath County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Weber, a  former Ashland and Jacksonville police officer, who is determined to make it back to patrol duty after being shot twice during a traffic stop in August. Weber has endured surgery and a painful recovery process from the damage inflicted by a bullet that shattered his jaw. He's expected to be back to work full-time next summer or fall.