In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

STEM program helps students bloom; HPV vaccine needs follow-through

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Cheers: To the STEM program, which unites businesses with bright students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Locally the program is funded by a $2 million grant set to expire at the end of the year, but has served 140 bright, motivated students. Among them is Reese Holland, recent Battle Ground High School graduate, Clark College student and Frito-Lay employee, who has already amassed 105 credits toward an engineering degree. Organizers are trying to extend the program, which would be a worthwhile endeavor both for students such as Holland and the employers who will need to find highly skilled workers as they face increased competition in the global economy.

Jeers: To parents who fail to have girls immunized against HPV, the human papillomavirus. The good news is that 70 percent of Washington girls get the first immunization in the three-shot series, better than the national average. But as in the rest of the country, participation then falls off. Only 45.5 percent of Washington girls complete the recommended three courses of vaccine. Maybe it’s the inconvenience of taking the child to the doctor twice more, or perhaps the cost of the visit or the vaccine. But parents ought to do all they can to make sure their children receive the full series of shots. The HPV immunization is a proven way to greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer, and is also effective in preventing genital warts in both sexes.

Cheers: To 35 new U.S. citizens from 18 countries who took the oath of citizenship last week at Fort Vancouver. The road to naturalization is paved with paperwork required of all legal immigrants, capped with a comprehensive civics and history examination. Added to the potential difficulties of learning a new language and adopting a new culture, these new citizens deserve our respect.

Jeers: To Clark County’s above-average rate of food insecurity. A study shows 28 percent of children and 17 percent of local adults don’t have reliable access to adequate nutritious food. Food banks help, but can’t provide enough for the 31,160 children and 72,140 adults who are considered food insecure. What we can do is donate food; if you want to help, the annual Walk & Knock food drive’s kickoff meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Clark Public Utilities auditorium.

Cheers: To WSU’s success in attracting more grants and private dollars to fund research that is important to the state’s economy. This week the state’s tree-fruit growers announced a $27 million donation, the largest in school history, on top of a $26 million contribution last year from billionaire Paul Allen to study animal health. In all, WSU’s grant funding has grown 54 percent from $154 million to $237 million since 2008, according to the university. The growth is spread among several WSU colleges including veterinary medicine, engineering and architecture, sciences and agriculture, and natural resources. In all, WSU’s Office of Research and Grant Development received 1,850 awards last year. Some of the topics being researched include clean energy, smart grid networks, materials science, and climate change.

Jeers: To deficient privately owned bridges. In a county with as many creeks and rural homes as we have, there are hundreds of these private bridges. The county estimates there are at least 679 of them but no one has an accurate count, let alone a listing of which ones might fail if a fire truck or other heavy vehicle crossed them. The good news is that the county and local fire districts are at least talking about the problem. It’s not clear whether owners may eventually be required to have their bridges inspected and certified, but at the very least there should be more awareness of the potential for problems.