In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Camas, Washougal extend merger;more college degrees would lift economy

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Cheers: To the cities of Camas and Washougal for continuing their fire department/emergency medical services partnership for two more years. Last year, the cities, faced with declining revenue and steady or increasing demand for services, thought outside the box and went ahead with a trial merger of the two formerly independent departments.It must have been tough negotiating through organizational and seniority issues, labor union agreements and the like, but the resulting partnership has already saved Camas $30,000 and Washougal $13,000, while improving response times to calls. Let’s hope other municipal agencies can innovate and find similar savings. Collaborative government is always important, but it’s especially crucial during an economic downturn.

Jeers: To the county’s continuing lag in the number of residents who have earned bachelor’s degrees. According to a new report from the Census Bureau, for the first time in history 30 percent of Americans 25 and older have earned a bachelor’s degree. At 31.1 percent, Washington ranks even higher than the national average.

But Clark County trails both the state and the nation, with only 24.6 percent of adults holding a bachelor’s degree. No wonder, then, that unemployment is greater here than in the rest of the state, or that our household incomes trail those of highly educated Puget Sound counties.

To thrive in the future, we’ll need a higher percentage of Clark County residents who are educationally qualified for higher-paying jobs.

Cheers: To some impressive accomplishments by local students, not to mention the perfect SAT score achieved by Mountain View High School junior Rohith Nagari. Nearly 300 middle- and high-schoolers came together at Clark College on Feb. 24 to talk about drug abuse prevention at the Teens Care Too Youth Prevention and Leadership Summit. That same week more high school students gathered at the Clark County Courthouse for the day-long annual mock trial tournament.

These youthful achievements bode well for our community’s future.

Jeers: To the historic mismanagement of tribal lands by the federal government. The Justice Department and the Colville Confederated Tribes, which has a large reservation near Grand Coulee Dam in North Central Washington, recently agreed to a $193 million settlement over such mismanagement.

The settlement ends a long-running lawsuit that alleges the Bureau of Indian Affairs sold tribal timber and leased rangeland for less than market value for years. It’s one of about 60 tribal trust lawsuits. In addition, the BIA faces a class-action lawsuit from tribal members that alleges chronic mismanagement of oil, gas, grazing and timber lands.

Cheers:To health care on the go. Perhaps the latest “app” for your smartphone is from your health care provider, allowing you to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, obtain lab results or email your physician.

Kaiser Permanente and LifeWise of Washington are among local providers that have launched such apps.