In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Music adds to Mount St. Helens; Hillsboro gains from our loss

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Cheers: To careful expansion of the uses of Mount St. Helens visitor facilities. A new 150-seat outdoor amphitheater at the spectacular Johnston Ridge Observatory will host its first concert beginning at 6:30 p.m. July 7. The Americana and folk-rock show is billed as the first in what will be an installment of Music on the Mountain concerts. Of course, there are drawbacks to using our backyard volcano as a venue. It’s a long drive from almost anywhere, and there are very few tourist facilities, including lodging. The U.S. Forest Service isn’t set up to be an events coordinator, nor should it be in the business of restricting access to public facilities to ticketed guests only. But the tremendous opportunity to bring more people to the volcano, for economic and cultural reasons, outweighs the concerns.

Jeers: To the lost opportunity to bring a minor-league professional baseball team to Clark County. This week the city of Hillsboro, Ore., inked a deal with the Yakima Bears, the same team that tried hard to relocate to a spot on the Clark College campus. As part of the deal, Hillsboro will sell bonds to finance a new stadium estimated to cost $13 million to $15 million. The various proposals aired in Clark County to build a stadium and bring the Bears to town all had something for everyone to criticize. But in the end, they’ll be playing ball in Hillsboro and we’ll be stuck with the perpetually lackluster Seattle Mariners on TV.

Cheers: To the Flanagan Clan. Not an Irish dance troupe, nor a unique tartan, this Woodland-based girls track team is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a 1 p.m. reunion today at Woodland High School. It was founded by Bruce Flanagan in an era when girls didn’t have the range of sports opportunities that are available today under federal Title IX rules, which also had an anniversary this month. The Flanagan Clan was the first girls track club to join the Oregon AAU, and over the decades its athletes have won hundreds of Junior Olympics medals and two national titles. Best of all, Flanagan and his clan continue to flourish.

Jeers: To silicon doctors who take the place of a live medical practitioner. The Washington Post recently reported on the proliferation of smartphone applications that consumers can use to view MRI images, check their heart rate, or even scan suspicious moles for skin cancer. These apps can be useful, for sure, and are beneficial to the extent that they motivate people to take charge of managing their health. But not every computerized result can be accurate; the system breaks down when people might find false reassurance or substitute an app for a doc.

Cheers: To the Morrill Act. Signed by President Lincoln on July 2, 1862, it set up the public land-grant university system at a time when higher education was focused on the traditional arts and was available to a select few. True to the land-grant mission, all still emphasize the teaching of practical application of agriculture, science and engineering, and have significant outreach statewide, including Extension programs. In the Pacific Northwest, the Morrill Act universities are Washington State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Idaho. All three schools have been major contributors to the green revolution that has fed the world and bolstered the Pacific Northwest’s economy.

Jeers: To bacon worship. Certainly the pork product, and even its poultry and soy imitators, have earned a place on America’s breakfast plates next to the over-easy eggs. Heck, bacon and tomato slices even make a mighty good sandwich. But the love affair with America’s Wonder Food has gone too far when outfits like Burger King offer up the bacon sundae, complete with 510 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 61 grams of sugar. Even if your diet allows this kind of splurge, save it for fresh strawberry shortcake.