In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Sept. 11 commemorations hit the mark; gasoline prices go through the roof

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Cheers: To the organizers and all who attended the local Sept. 11 commemorations. Though most of the focus of the day was properly on New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, more than a half-dozen local ceremonies were held. The largest, at Vancouver Landing, attracted a crowd of more than 400. In Camas, money that was raised for the state firefighters widows and orphans fund, the Northwest Burn Foundation, and other worthy causes was presented at a commemoration. We won’t soon forget.

Jeers: To the record $491 billion that U.S. motorists will spend on gasoline this year, despite falling consumption. The Los Angeles Times reported this week that even though gas was briefly more expensive in 2008, overall drivers have shelled out more for fuel this year because prices rose faster this time and stayed high longer. There are plenty of people ready to point fingers at the various causes, including market speculation, unrest in the Arab world, increasing exports of U.S.-refined fuels, and greedy oil companies, but the fact is that high fuel costs are one of the heavy chains dragging down the economic recovery. The story also contained this depressing prediction: By spring, gas will cost more than $4 per gallon in many U.S. markets.

Cheers: To Oregon Iron Works’ Vancouver operation, which will be involved in manufacturing a giant ocean buoy that can generate electrical power. Ocean Power Technologies and Lockheed Martin are collaborating on the project, which will use wave motion to power the buoy’s generator. Testing already is under way on the control system, which will be shipped to Vancouver for installation. The finished buoy will be tested in the ocean near Reedsport, Ore. These are the kinds of innovative projects that could someday return our economy and job market to healthy growth.

Jeers: To Woodland officials who constructed a roundabout that is too small for some trucks. At 130 feet in diameter, the roundabout at Schurman Way and Dike Road is in an industrial part of town frequented by large trucks. City officials note that at that size, it does meet state minimums. But it doesn’t meet the requirements of some local businesses, such as Woodland Trucking, where owner Darlene Johnson notes that the barrier forces large trucks to drive on the sidewalk to make the corner. So it’s become an impediment, not a traffic solution, meaning the whole $1.8 million is money poorly spent.

Cheers: To the 32 companies that have signed up for a Sept. 28 job fair, which will run from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay. The fair, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, may not result in the creation of any new jobs. In fact, there is no guarantee that all of the companies that participate are hiring right now. But it puts employers and job seekers in the same room, where each side can try to match their qualifications with current and future openings.

Jeers: To loopholes that make neighborhood storm drainage ponds into weed gardens that no one maintains. Julia Spellman’s battle with her facility, detailed in Wednesday’s Neighbors section, is but one of many. After she and her husband sold most of their 5 acres, a developer built a housing subdivision, Julia’s Garden.

It included the mandated storm runoff pond, which, according to covenants that went with the lots, a homeowners association was to maintain. But no association was formed, and today the pond is choked with thistles and other noxious weeds. The county has the power to regulate these ponds, but with 2,000 public and private stormwater facilities to watch, a small staff is unable to keep up. These facilities need to be better thought out in the next wave of development.