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March 29, 2013
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Teen titan

We’ve heard it many times: If you want something done, ask a busy person.

Oakland High School junior B.J. Barnes is probably going to get asked to do a lot over the next few decades. The 17-year-old is his class’ student body vice president. He plays football and basketball and is also a wrestler.

He’s a member of his school’s National Honors Society and has been involved with Future Business Leaders of America. He came to our attention, however, as student adviser to the Oregon State Board of Education. He was appointed to the one-year term in December and travels once a month to Salem to give board members his perspective as the voice of Oregon’s students. It’s been quite the education, he said, observing board members talk over policies and then coming home and seeing them put in action.

More important, he’s making a contribution by representing a small community as well as providing a youthful perspective.

We wish Barnes success in his year as student adviser and beyond, but that’s hardly necessary. This is a young man who is already on his way to perpetual excellence.

Salute to a trailblazer

Goodbyes are often sad. For Fair Oaks Rural Fire District, the departure of Chief Robert Mock is the equivalent of a 10-hankie farewell.

Yet no one who sees off the 26-year-old chief can wish him anything but well.

Mock took his position in August after smoldering discontent flared up into a recall effort, ending up with the resignation of three board members and the district’s former chief, Paul Yegge. The new chief recruited and trained 21 volunteers in his effort to turn around the department. He acquired a new fire tender, installed a new cement floor at the station and repaired firefighting equipment, while building bridges to Fair Oaks residents to restore their confidence in the department. All that while earning only a $1,000 monthly stipend.

His good work will be rewarded, though unfortunately for Fair Oaks, it won’t be at the community east of Sutherlin. The Siletz Valley Fire Department hired Mock as a captain. He’ll start the post, which pays nearly $4,000 a month, in May.

We offer Mock a hearty bon voyage, but we have to admit: Our eyes are burning.

Fruitful endeavor

You never know where the next good project will crop up.

These days, one is taking root in front of the Woolley Center in Roseburg. Members of an Umpqua Community College staff leadership class and nursing students recently volunteered time and donated materials to create the Woolley Center Learning Garden. The plots eventually may bring fresh produce to Roseburg schools and will provide hands-in-the-soil experience to students. Organizers expect the garden to feature six raised beds, an herb garden, a greenhouse and a shed.

The project is a result of year-long efforts by AmeriCorps VISTA member Hannah Morris, who formed partnerships and harnessed a $29,000 state grant. The money will pay for the garden’s construction and also help the district buy homegrown food for school cafeterias.

Kudos to Morris, her partners and the volunteers who are working to produce benefits that so many will be able to reap.

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The News-Review Updated Mar 29, 2013 10:04AM Published Mar 29, 2013 10:04AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.