In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Volunteers rebuilding burned shelter; dumb excuses don’t impress police

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Cheers: To a volunteer effort that is rebuilding the Marble Mountain snow shelter. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the log cabin sheltered a generation of skiers, snowmobilers and other recreationists before being consumed by an April 9 fire. The volunteers hope to collect about $130,000 plus in-kind donations of labor and materials and rebuild the shelter by November. Though the snow is barely gone, volunteers have already started work by removing the rubble. To donate, visit http://bit.ly/mH3u3i.

Jeers: To dumb excuses. Local police recently shared with The Columbian’s Bob Albrecht some of the stories they’ve heard over the years at the scenes of accidents and traffic stops. One pregnant woman faked labor pains; another driver claimed a paper receipt flew up and hit him in the face. And a bonus jeer to drivers caught talking on cellphones who later deny it; one violator went so far as to drop his phone out the window of the car.

Cheers: To international rock ’n’ roll star Gene Simmons, who put Battle Ground on the map by spending the night there last week before playing a Kiss show in Everett. It’s not clear why Simmons and his roadies were spotted in town in his custom-painted bus, but they did boost the local economy by staying at the Best Western and dining at a Main Street restaurant. We’ll be watching Camas-Washougal eagerly for Steven Tyler when “American Idol” comes to Portland.

Jeers: To the Puyallup City Council’s workaround of state open meetings laws. Faced with the inconvenience of allowing the public to know what their government is doing, city council members are meeting with each other behind closed doors at unannounced times. They argue that the meetings can be secret because a majority of the council never attends and no official votes are taken. But the whole concept smacks of bad governance and leaves the public to believe their government is trying to hide what’s going on.

Cheers: To the annual summer archaeology field school taking place at Fort Vancouver and, for the first time this year, at the Old City Cemetery. The college students spend several weeks literally unearthing the city’s rich history, recovering thousands of artifacts that reveal a rich portrait of 19th century life here. At the 144-year-old cemetery, the students logged information about many of the 8,000 graves. Many of the headstones are damaged or worn, so now is the time to preserve their history.

Jeers: To increased stress on Washington’s water supply. The Associated Press reported this week that water shortages are acute in the Yakima region, and serious declines in groundwater levels threaten the quality of life in communities such as Pullman and Spokane’s West Plains. Part of the problem may be that the state has issued too many water rights. Though Vancouver sits atop the huge Troutdale Aquifer, those water shortages could affect us as they consume state resources to fix or alternatively constrain economic growth.

Cheers: To July 5. This Tuesday, as legend has it among Clark County locals, marks the first day we can expect summer weather. The forecast looks like this year we may get a break and have a nice day or two over the weekend, but it’s Tuesday that we circled on our calendars back in April, when it seemed like 2011 would never bring a sunny day. Too bad we have to work.

Jeers: To a wave of violence that has recently washed the county. Homicide, suicide and gang violence are all part of violent activity that veteran Vancouver police Sgt. Scott Creager characterized as “at a level we don’t normally see.” Few if any of the acts appear to be related, but the unusual pattern reminds us of how safe we otherwise generally are here.