>   By Tony Ahern
   Get ready for the start of Extreme Makeover, Madras style.
   The north end project will be getting started in the next few days. When it's done, we'll hardly recognize the north entrance of town.
   For starters, instead of a dash-if-you-dare Highway 97 and 26 merge, that confluence will be pulled southward and controlled with a street light.
   A new city park entrance area east of Fifth Street will be exciting to watch take shape. The Urban Renewal District has dedicated $300,000 to fund a nice design. That should go a long way. If I could, I'd vote for a fabulous water feature as a centerpiece. An inspiring, awesome fountain would be outstanding, would it not?
   The extension of Fourth Street northward will be a significant improvement to the town. That area will have elevation over Fifth Street, providing good sight level from the highways, and should make for outstanding commercial locations, all the way up to the planned hotel on the west side of U.S. 26.
   The north end project will hinder travel in that area for months. We'll all need to be extra patient and cautious behind the wheel.
   If the Legislature gives the OK to the state prison (first phase funding is expected this month), Madras could have major road projects occurring on the north end and on the east end of town, where prison contractors will be working on road and infrastructure projects along Ashwood Road as it goes to the prison property.
   The pool project getting started this year, the city set to decide on a eastside developer, and other housing developments going on and about to be started, Madras is indeed undergoing an Extreme Makeover in 2005.
   Kudos to our county government, led by Commissioner Walt Ponsford's initiative, for targeting the Jefferson Street area of town for improvement (see the Page 1 story). This area has long been an area screaming for adoption. While some landowners in the area are balking, the neighborhood, and the community, will benefit through the clean-up and restoration of Jefferson Street and surrounds.
   No field goal-kicking horses?
   We finally had a Super Bowl more exciting than the Super Bowl commercials. But that isn't saying much. The game wasn't that great. But, compared to past Super Bowl spreads, those commercials were about as lame as the Eagles' running game.
   Budweiser's applauding the soldiers at the airport ad is generally regarded as the best ad of the day, and indeed it was good. But for extraordinarily funny, or cutting-edge creative, the 2005 Super Bowl commercials didn't have it.
   Oh well. It's just about time for our National Pastime (yeah, right) to get started. Unless you live in Boston or the Bronx, where baseball still rules, we just watched the championship game of our national pastime, subpar commercials and all.
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