In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Whipple Creek trails whipped into shape; ODOT gets lost on path to common sense

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Cheers: To horse owners’ groups and other volunteers who have made substantial improvements to Whipple Creek Regional Park. The 300-acre park, west of the Clark County Fairgrounds, is a frequented by horse riders, mountain bikers, trail runners and anyone who just enjoys a forest outing. The park’s funding dried up even as the trails got soggier, with seasonal muck strong enough to injure a horse or a human. That’s when the volunteers stepped in to repair and resurface the worst spots. With enthusiastic volunteers, more plans will come to fruition.

Jeers: To Oregon Department of Transportation managers who ordered the removal of homemade signs guiding bicyclists across Hayden Island to the Interstate 5 Bridge. The Oregonian reports that cyclists call the labyrinthine route to the bridge the “Interstate pretzel,” and someone posted 31 signs to guide people along the proper path. But when ODOT’s Portland regional manager, Jason Tell, saw the signs on a bike blog, he ordered them removed. “They hadn’t gone through an official process,” he huffed. ODOT does plan to erect its own signs, someday, at taxpayer expense, and presumably after an “official process.” Tell couldn’t say when that might occur. About 370 cyclists use the bridge daily.

Cheers: To improved standardized test scores on math and reading. The U.S. Education Department this week released results that showed Washington kids — fourth- and eighth-graders — did slightly better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam than students did two years ago. Furthermore, Washington students scored better than average. A statistical analysis showed that fewer than 10 states did better than Washington. However, state schools chief Randy Dorn was quick to point out that the improvement was very small, and, along with other state-administered tests, suggests that educational achievement is flattening out. Dorn blames the reduction in public school programs caused by the recession and predicts scores will remain flat.

Jeers: To the plight of “Lena Petrovich” and the circumstances that created her. Petrovich was one of several composite characters recently used to illustrate the continuing problems of domestic violence. The YWCA Clark County considered her hypothetical case at its recent In Her Shoes event spotlighting National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Despite more public awareness, victim assistance programs such as the Y’s SafeChoice, and state mandatory-arrest laws, domestic violence continues to plague our society. Though Lena’s sad story — she went back to her abusive husband, only to have him kill her in a jealous rage — was invented to prove a point, many facts were shared at the event. It takes, on average, seven attempts to flee a violent home for good, according to the Y. With reduced government and social services resources, and less economic opportunity for an abused person to start a new independent life, there’s reason to fear the problem may get worse before it gets better.

Cheers: To the Port of Camas-Washougal for holding a public workshop before moving ahead on plans to redevelop 40 acres of waterfront in Washougal. The 30 who turned out offered sensible ideas: no big-box stores; use the riverfront as a destination; connect the development well with the cities it serves. Contrast this with the port’s actions a few years ago on the proposed RiverWalk development. Before residents had a chance to even know a deal was in the works, the port had signed binding agreements with developers. The deal collapsed, but distrust lingered. Now the public is involved from the beginning on plans for the old Hambleton Lumber mill and adjoining property.