In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Trails, camps would boost St. Helens; Harris erupts (again) at council meeting

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Cheers: To the possibility of new campgrounds and trails at Mount St. Helens. The volcano in our backyard was, before the eruption of 1980, a major outdoor recreational destination for Southwest Washington residents. The events of May 18 changed the alpine landscape forever, but also left us with the rare opportunity to watch nature heal its self-inflicted wounds. However, for various reasons there has been a lack of access, particularly for those who would stay overnight.Now the U.S. Forest Service is studying adding one or two campgrounds and two trails. The campgrounds, the first in the monument, would be near the Science and Learning Center at Coldwater -- the newly repurposed Coldwater Ridge visitors center. One of the trails would climb to the Sugar Bowl, a rim on the northeast side of the crater; the other would be near the Ape Cave on the south side of the volcano. Of course, all new recreational opportunities will have to be weighed against public safety and ongoing scientific study, but providing more access will help people understand more about the almost unfathomable forces our planet can unleash.

Jeers: To the latest spouting of Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Harris. Like Mount St. Helens, the city's longest-tenured councilor also has an eruptive history, with her infamous request to Mayor Tim Leavitt to "gavel down" a citizen speaking during a meeting. On Monday, after a contentious discussion over raising the sales tax to fund light rail maintenance and operations, the conversation went like this, according to The Columbian's Andrea Damewood:

Leavitt said that he still believed that no tax of any kind should be used. And he wasn't going to support it.

"Are you kidding me?!" Harris shot back. "Are you kidding me, Mr. Mayor?!"

"No, I am not kidding you, Ms. Harris." Leavitt said. "Roll call."

By the end of the meeting, she had apologized. "We're OK?" she asked Leavitt. But the incident goes into the record as another case where Harris' temper overcame her intelligence.

Cheers: To a new display about modern automobile engineering debuting at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The OMSI exhibit tells visitors about cars, but also illustrates the advanced capabilities of the 10 Washington State University Vancouver students who spent the past several months designing the display and creating custom software applications. Visitors can use Apple iPads to learn more about vehicle design in a story told with words, video and 3-D animation. The Autovation exhibit was funded by Vancouver-based Dick Hannah Dealerships. It's the first permanent OMSI exhibit to be built by students.

Jeers: To the sputtering end of an investigation involving the disappearance of more than $100,000 in funds from the city of Washougal. An investigation by a Clark County sheriff's detective failed to turn up enough evidence to bring charges against any parties involved in the community events that surrounded the disappearance of the money. The city's former leadership pumped money into the events but because of poor record-keeping and a refusal by a private firm to cooperate, the probe ended with key unanswered questions. The taxpayers have lost the money forever, but can take some comfort in knowing that the city's new leaders have strengthened accounting controls and no longer support these events.

Cheers: To a new test of satellite navigation technology for passenger planes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The satellite guides planes to a precise landing, allowing them to throttle down their engines, reducing noise and emissions and saving fuel. It holds promise for thousands of Clark County residents who live under the PDX flight path.