Cheers & Jeers
Military group takes on a challenge; parks budget remains challenging
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Cheers: To members of the Community Military Appreciation Committee for continuing a quarter-century tradition of conducting a Memorial Day service honoring our fallen service members. The annual ceremony at Vancouver Barracks previously was organized by the Army Reserve’s 104th Division (Leader Training), which has been ordered to Fort Lewis. The new committee, led by the local 40 et 8 veterans group, offered a ceremony that honors more than 500 local service members who gave their lives, including Army Pfc. Christopher I. Walz, killed last year in Afghanistan.
Jeers: To the recession (again), which in this case has caused the closure of the water playground at Salmon Creek Regional Park and the end of summer lifeguards at Klineline Pond. With record cold and above-average rain, it’s hard to envision wanting a cool-down. But on Clark County’s hottest days the park and its pond become an urban oasis for the $3 cost of the parking fee. However, the parks department had to absorb a $1.6 million budget cut due to lower tax revenue, and the lifeguards and the “sprayground” — where the water had to be tested and chlorinated — were a place to find the money. Tough economic times require sacrifices such as this; we hope that when the recovery kicks in the services can be restored.
Cheers: To Hathaway Elementary School, where students and staff have saved 50,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity since October. On Wednesday the Washougal building will be recognized as a Washington Green School by the state. Students, staff and community members conducted an energy audit of the school and produced a six-page report. The team concluded the best way to make an impact was by turning off computers, lights and electrical equipment at night and on weekends. The result: a greener planet, and a greener bank statement. At current commercial rates charged by Clark Public Utilities, 7.3 cents per kwh, their efforts have saved the district $3,650.
Jeers: To Clark Regional Wastewater District commissioners, who habitually treat themselves to breakfast at a local restaurant using ratepayers’ money. The commissioners and the staff hold two of their three regular monthly meetings in the conference room at the district’s Hazel Dell office. But for nearly four years the district has held a third meeting at Billygan’s Roadhouse in Salmon Creek. “It was really an efficiency type of issue to have this before the normal business day,” explains General Manager John Peterson, who adds that the monthly breakfast tab for the three commissioners and three staff members who generally attend averages $47.33. Even if the district is flush with cash, it’s hard to see why a restaurant is a better place to conduct the public’s business.
Cheers: To the hundreds of local residents who turned out at three different venues Tuesday to send the message that our community values tolerance and diversity. Faced with the announcement that some out-of-state protesters planned to make a scene outside Heritage High School, local people mobilized and outnumbered the voices of hatred roughly 100-to-1. In addition to a counter-demonstration at the high school, a rally supporting human dignity and rights was held at the Clark County YWCA, and students at Union High School invited Mayor Tim Leavitt and other local speakers to a “Meeting of Tolerance.”
Jeers: To the tenacious and growing problem of childhood obesity. A Kaiser Permanente study conducted with Northwest Indian tribes showed the youngsters’ obesity rates increased, even with community intervention and in-home visits. The good news is that the increase among that group was slowed, indicating that some tactics may work to at least slow this dangerous epidemic.