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Raise a glass

To Mercer Estates BLOCK 93.

With 9/11 on people's minds it's easy to see the symbolism of 911 grapevines growing on a plot known as BLOCK 93, the same number as the flight that went down in Pennsylvania.

BLOCK 93 is in a prime location on Mercer Wine Estates in Prosser and was planted to honor the memory of those who died on 9/11, specifically vineyard manager John Derrick's best friend Richard Guadagno, who was on Flight 93.

The Cabernet Sauvignon produced from these vines is labeled Eagle and Plow. The 2012 inaugural vintage went on sale this month and all the money from the sale of the wine goes to charities that support those who have suffered and served.

The first crop produced 100 bottles and when the vines are mature the wine makers are expecting more like 200 cases a year.

Derrick and Mercer Wine Estates President Rob Mercer, who is a veteran, came up with the label to remember the past while looking forward.

With proper care, these vines likely will outlast the men who planted them.

During that time, they should produce many, many bottles of quality wine and asignificant donation to the chosen charities.

That's worth drinking to.

Here comes the judge

To the newly appointed Alex Ekstrom.

During the 2010 election, we interviewed Ekstrom and were impressed with him and his opponent. We said, "Both are qualified. The decision will be difficult." (Our Voice, Oct. 6, 2010)

Even voters had a hard time making a choice that year. Dan Kathren won by just 15 votes.

We are pleased to see Ekstrom appointed to the bench for Benton-Franklin Superior Court. He will fill the vacancy left now that Sal Mendoza has been appointed the U.S. District Court.

Stimulus gone wrong

To tax cheaters and their government enablers.

A yearlong investigation by several McClatchy reporters found a widespread problem with companies that cheat our tax system and government agencies that let them do it.

The problem was especially notable with stimulus package President Obama ordered shortly after coming into office.

Some companies are listing their employees as contractors in order to avoid paying benefits and unemployment insurance. It hurts the employee, it creates an unfair advantage and it is illegal.

In 2009, this practice cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Government agencies know it is a problem. They ought to have done better by the taxpayers who sign their checks.