Cheers: To the start of preconstruction on the widening of Highway 502 from Duluth to Battle Ground. The state highway's other name, Northeast 219th Street, suggests its humble origins as a farm-to-market road serving an agricultural community. As the area urbanized -- Battle Ground is now home to nearly 18,000 -- the state added an interchange with Interstate 5 at the west end of 219th. But nothing much has been done to the road, which has two narrow lanes, no shoulders, and lots of driveways where motorists enter and exit.So it's good news that the state has started on Phase One of an $88 million project that will turn 219th into a four-lane parkway. The current work consists of making wetlands and drainage improvements. Actual road construction will have to wait until next year, after the state has had a chance to acquire more of the 170-plus parcels of land it will need.
Of course, there have been objections from local residents who understandably don't want to lose parts of their yards or their driveways. And others lament the loss of businesses, particularly the current O'Brady's Drive-In at Dollars Corner. But a look at the accident statistics -- there have been several fatal accidents along the stretch of road in the last decade -- bears out the need for the work.
Jeers: To the failed search process for a new Camas city manager. There's no doubt that finding a worthy successor to Lloyd Halverson will be difficult. In an occupation where turnover is high, since 1989 Halverson has been the first and only city manager at Camas. But Halverson, 65, said last January that he would like to retire. So the city convened a complicated search to hire a successor, which culminated in five candidates' being interviewed from among more than 50 applicants. Ultimately, Mayor Scott Higgins chose and then rejected two finalists, bringing the city back to the starting point. Let's hope that care is taken with the new search to ensure enough suitable candidates are identified and interviewed.
Cheers: To the Volcano Rescue Team. This group of volunteer mountain rescuers stands ready to respond when accidents happen on Mount St. Helens or on any of the hundreds of thousands of other acres of wildlands in the region. Already this year the team has been busy, with two rescues on July 3 alone. The team is associated with North Country EMS, which has been providing emergency medical services in a 1,000-square-mile swath of thinly populated Clark, Skamania and Cowlitz counties for decades. Most of the Volcano Rescue Team members also volunteer with North Country EMS; all provide their own personal climbing gear.
Jeers: To angry discourse and bitter reprisals among members of the Mount Pleasant school board. The school district serves only 55 students in a bucolic area on the Clark-Skamania county line, but the board members can't look past their petty difficulties to see the uniqueness of the school. The personality conflicts caused Superintendent Linda Slattery to announce her resignation this week, after only one year on the job. And while the board feuds, serious problems cropped up including poor bookkeeping and a criminal charge and subsequent guilty plea from a school bus driver who filled the tank of her own vehicle using a school credit card. If this is the way the school board members act, we can only hope the students follow that old adage to "Do as we say and not as we do."
Cheers: To Vancouver's Maplewood neighborhood. Tucked between a bluff and Fourth Plain Boulevard on both sides of Grand Avenue, it faces problems with gangs, crime and violence. But a new neighborhood association is in place and active, and vows to fight the good fight to control the bad guys.