Cheers: To Washington's shared-work program, which benefits employees, employers and the state government during an economic downturn. The program run by the state Employment Security Department lets employers reduce the hours of their full-time employees while those workers collect partial unemployment benefits. Currently, 77 companies and 673 employees in Clark County are participating, including Cadet Manufacturing, which builds baseboard and wall heaters, and thermostats at its factory near Fourth Plain Boulevard. At Cadet, workers such as Ros Sin have been able to keep their jobs and preserve their income despite a downturn in orders. It's also a win for Cadet, which keeps a talented, taxpaying workforce.
Jeers: To any bureaucrats or politicians who believe that allowing more gambling in their communities will cure their civic budget woes. Woodland is an example. When it opened the town to cardrooms in 2011, the city council said it would receive $200,000 in additional tax revenues in 2012. But after its first quarter of operation, the OakTree Casino now looks like it is on pace to provide approximately half that amount. In the world of gambling, one thing you can bet on is that the odds are always against you.
Cheers: To a new style of library being planned for Yacolt. The Fort Vancouver Regional Library has long served the county's smallest town — and other rural destinations — with bookmobiles, but that service will now be ending in Clark County. However, a promising partnership between the town and the library will result in the area's first "express" library. A portion of the old town hall will be remodeled into an area with books and other materials, and Internet access. It will be staffed about four hours a week; self-service users will be able to use the facilities beyond those hours. It's a way to provide equal or better library service to the community at a very low cost.
Jeers: To IHN, a deadly fish virus that has been detected in Washington waters for the first time. The virus (infectious haematopoietic necrosis), which is sort of like the fish flu, was found at a salmon farm off of Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound. All of the salmon had to be destroyed, and 2 acres of pens must be disinfected. It's not unique to fish farms. IHN occurs in wild sockeye salmon and can be carried by herring and other fish.
Cheers: To major road improvements coming to the west end of Northeast 88th Street. When the street was built decades ago, it was a typical rural road, with humps and dips and narrow lanes. Sidewalks and shoulders weren't considered, let alone bike lanes. Now, 88th connects Walmart with Costco, and passes hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses. The eastern half has been improved, so now it's the last 1.7 miles that will be suburbanized. The project is expected to cost $17.5 million and will add a continuous left-turn lane, sidewalks and bike lanes to the rebuilt arterial. Stormwater runoff also will be managed. Construction work is expected to last at least into 2013 and will probably try the patience of the hundreds of homeowners who live along the street. But for the 7,000 motorists who use the road on a typical day, it will be worthwhile.
Jeers: To a downtown Vancouver land dispute that ended with a killing. The U.S. Army, the business community and the Catholic Church were embroiled in the dispute, which concerned ownership of a parcel of land. Also involved were two citizens, David Gardner and Amos Short. It all came to a head when Short shot and killed Gardner, and thus acquired the property. He was tried and acquitted, but today, 160 years later, Gardner's ghost is still said to haunt the Slocum House in the southwest corner of the popular downtown park named for Amos Short's wife.