In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Multiple stakeholders secure deal for port; high river levels worsen mosquito problems

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Cheers: To a large assortment of partners whose teamwork recently accelerated the relocation of Farwest Steel Corp. to the Port of Vancouver. The company is expected to bring 228 new and relocated jobs here, and the schedule has been expedited by the company’s securing a $48 million financing plan from the federal program known as New Markets Tax Credit. The complicated application process required the cooperation of Farwest, the port, the city of Vancouver, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and other funding entities.

And here’s a bonus benefit: Although qualifying for the federal program required a lot of work, the experience has given local planners the skills to swing similar deals in the future. “The partnership worked, the tool is there and worked, and hopefully that will pave the way for it to be used again,” said Curtis Schuck, director of economic planning for the Port of Vancouver.

Jeers: Here’s a slam-dunk denunciation of the lowly mosquito. High river levels this year have complicated Clark County’s mosquito-control efforts, to the extent that the use of helicopters for spraying has increased in recent weeks. Local residents can help in this mosquito-control effort by removing all stagnant water in cans, tires and buckets, and by changing water in birdbaths, ponds and animal water dishes.

Cheers: To the rowdy outbursts of “Checkmate!” that will ring out in downtown Vancouver next year. The Washington State Chess Federation has selected Vancouver as the site of the United States Chess Federation’s 113th U.S. Open. The event, scheduled for Aug. 4-14, 2012, will bring 500 chess players, plus an undetermined number of fans and family members, to the Hilton Vancouver Washington downtown. Details are available at http://www.uschess.org/index.php.

Jeers: To national environmental policy research consultant Steve Spacek, who proclaimed Washington to be the best state in the nation for litter control. Why jeer that, you ask? Because none other than the Washington Department of Transportation’s Maintenance Operations division gave the state a “D” grade in litter pickup. That’s a far cry from the glowing assessment that was rendered by the consultant.

Spacek’s report, called “The American State Litter Scorecard 2011,” gave our state “high national scores for having litter taxation, comprehensive recycling and the state governor’s environmental responsibility reputation.” However, WSDOT cited “a low maintenance service level in which the roadway and associated features are kept in generally poor conditions.” Massive budget cuts in many state agencies don’t make the future any brighter for litter control in our state, so it’s mostly up to individuals and civic groups to pick up the slack on roadside cleanup.

Cheers: Happy Birthday! to one of the most popular local assets, one that helps define our community’s personality. The Six to Sunset concert series is enjoying its 25th year at Esther Short Park. The free family-friendly concerts are from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays through Aug. 11.

And if your schedule is geared more toward daytime visits to the downtown park, check out the noon concerts on Wednesdays through Aug. 10. For a list of performers in both concert series, visit http://www.cityofvancouver.us/concerts.

Jeers: To a 112th Congress that is challenging even the “do-nothing Congress” of 1948 (President Harry Truman’s description) when it comes to futility. An abundance of important issues remain to be decided in coming months, but from January through May this Congress passed only 16 bills into law, compared with 50 during the same period last year.