In our view: Cheers & Jeers

County proposal has eternal benefits; sit-in disrupts but doesn’t persuade

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Cheers:To a proposed county code amendment that would allow existing rural cemeteries to expand. The Venersborg Cemetery is a prime example. Incorporated in 1914, the 1-acre cemetery has long since sold its last lot, to the disappointment of neighbors and other folks who want to spend eternity in a beautiful place. Gaining permission to expand under current zoning rules would require a lengthy and expensive process perhaps as much as $20,000. But thanks to some smart thinking by county Community Development Director Marty Snell and Commissioner Tom Mielke, the county is thinking about merely amending the code to allow such growth without extensive permitting. The proposal will come up for a vote on June 12. Unless there’s some reasonable last-minute objection, commissioners should favor it.

Jeers: To this week’s sit-in at the Vancouver office of the Department of Social and Health Services. The Tuesday event was organized by the Service Employees International Union, which represents state-paid in-home caregivers for elderly or disabled people. The SEIU-represented caregivers earn about $10.40 per hour, and are complaining that DSHS recently cut their work hours. For example, one of the protesters, Gayle Sevier, is paid by the state to cook, do the laundry and provide other care for her mother, Clara Sevier, but had her paid hours reduced from 108 hours per month to 100 hours per month. It’s debatable whether the union’s issue is a case of a crucial cut or a shared sacrifice in a lousy economy, but refusing to leave a state office and disrupting its operations is not an appropriate way to foster a productive conversation. In fact, it further strains scarce government resources.

Cheers:To turnips. A surprise crop of the root vegetables was harvested at the Clark County Heritage Farm last Saturday, where they had been planted last year amid the cornrows and pretty much given over as a failure. Bill Coleman, secretary-treasurer of the Clark County Food Bank, explained that the late spring and cool summer kept the turnips from coming up on time. It wasn’t until the cornstalks were cut down that the late success was revealed. So that’s why volunteers were in the field in the middle of winter, harvesting some 600 pounds of turnips for the food bank. Though not the most popular vegetable with consumers, the turnips will provide a fresh midwinter alternative to canned and frozen veggies.

Jeers: To legislative inaction on a bill that would have required drug manufacturers to provide funding for programs that take back unused medicines. Senate Bill 5234 was bottled up by special interests and failed to come to a vote before a cutoff deadline this week. It would have required pharmaceutical manufacturers to set up and fund an approved take-back program to keep medications from falling into the wrong hands. Supporters noted it would have cost only 2 cents per prescription to set up the program, and the bill had support from more than 260 health organizations, police, local governments and environmental groups. Luckily, unlike most of the state, Clark County residents have an effective way to get rid of unwanted drugs take them to the sheriff’s office or any police station (except in Vancouver) during business hours.

Cheers: To a new effort by Legacy Medical Group and some other providers to promote health literacy awareness. Even the best medical treatments are insufficient if the patient doesn’t understand the directions of a physician, nurse or pharmacist. Plain language is best. That’s why Legacy’s new CLEAR campaign (Communication. Literacy and Education Achieve Results) is important. It both reminds providers to clarify instructions with patients, and provides tools to help patients overcome health literacy challenges.