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Cheers to skiing, blankets; jeers to arrogance

Cheers — to the earliest opening for the Mt. Ashland Ski Area in two years, and the prospect of a full season that will help the challenged mountain regain its financial footing.

Two years ago the community-owned ski area didn't open at all for lack of snow; last season saw only 38 days of skiing and a complete closure for the month of January, also because of low snowpack. This season started out with a big storm on top of snow already on the ground, and the prospect of more to come after a brief warming trend.

The auspicious beginning is good news not only for skiers and snowboarders but for the local economy as well: The mountain employs 140 seasonal workers and generates sales of equipment and clothing in local businesses.

Cheers — to local business owners Manny Munoz and Griff Hardcastle, who have been leaving free blankets outside their graphic design and screen printing shop on Central Avenue for homeless folks who happen by. A sign on the box holding the blankets also offers hot coffee inside for anyone who asks.

The two young entrepreneurs — who also operate the nonprofit Gamerosity, providing gaming systems to children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses — are setting an example for us all.

Jeers — to the expression of surprise by Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal that his colleague, Commissioner Colleen Roberts, defeated him for a position on the board of the Association of O&C Counties because, Breidenthal said, he didn't think she had attended any of the organization's meetings and the position didn't mesh with her other liaison work for the county.

In fact, Roberts had attended a meeting in place of Breidenthal, who faces an ethics complaint filed by the county over a campaign fund he used to run for a post with another regional organization. Breidenthal is also under fire for his travel spending and for missing more than 30 meetings this year. 

Roberts has as much business sitting on the board of a group representing timber-producing Oregon counties as Breidenthal, and her election suggests her counterparts in the group agree.

Cheers —  to what appears to be a reasonable settlement of a lawsuit challenging the county's voter-approved ban on genetically modified crops. Alfalfa farmers had sued the county for damages, alleging they would lose more than $4 million if they were forced to remove perennial Roundup-ready alfalfa before the end of its life cycle. The settlement gives them eight years to continue to raise the crop, after which they agreed to plant crops that are not genetically engineered.

The anti-GMO farmers who got the law passed will see their ban upheld in the long run, and the alfalfa growers will be spared a major financial loss in the short term. We'd call that a win-win.