In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

3-D mammograms reduce uncertainty; more reasons to replace the I-5 Bridge

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Cheers: To new three-dimensional mammography technology now available in Southwest Washington. The new equipment is in use at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s Kearney Breast Center and soon will be available at The Vancouver Clinic. The technology provides radiologists with much clearer images, tissue layer by tissue layer, and should greatly reduce the number of inconclusive or false-positive tests. In the past, some women have experienced the awful ordeal of hearing their mammogram result wasn’t normal, and then having to wait more days for expensive, sometimes painful, follow-up testing, before learning they do not have cancer. The state-of-the-art equipment is a real boon to all women who undergo these tests and to the women’s loved ones.Jeers: To continuing repairs to the rapidly aging Interstate 5 Bridge. Recently, a counterweight came partially loose from its track, necessitating emergency repairs that resulted in traffic jams as the drawbridge had to be lifted. These repeated repair-related bridge lifts present more evidence that this bridge must be replaced. It’s worth noting that the failure was on the southbound span, which has been in service 53 years. That’s the new span. The northbound bridge has been in service since Feb. 14, 1917, when horses, wagons and, yes, light rail (streetcars) were among the common traffic using what was then a toll bridge.

Cheers: To Babies in Need. Not the infants, but the program by that name, which for a dozen years has provided mothers of infants with layettes, pajamas, gowns, diapers and other clothing and linens. The program is run out of All Saints Episcopal Church in Hazel Dell, where it recently expanded from the basement into its own larger, freestanding building. Donations can be left anytime at a covered bin on the church grounds, or for more information, phone Kitty Ash, 360-573-8299. The website is http://babiesinneed.org.

Jeers: To mistakes in pensions paid to some former Oregon public employees. To recoup more than $156 million overpaid to these “window retirees” who retired between April 2000 and April 2004, more than 20,000 other public pensioners will see their checks reduced by 2 percent this year. Another 8,000 people will be asked to repay benefits they mistakenly received. The mistakes add to a lengthy list of reasons why state governments should move away from defined-benefit plans and start offering defined-contribution plans, similar to the 401(k) plans that are so common in the private sector.

Cheers: To city officials’ decision to raise the speed limit on Southeast Columbia Way through the Columbia Business Center to 30 mph. The speed limit was 25 mph, but a traffic survey showed that most motorists drive faster. Rather than crack down or ignore the problem, traffic engineers recommended raising the speed limit. That makes sense in this area, where the street is wide, there are almost no children, and the traffic is predominately commercial and industrial. Now the only arterial street in Vancouver with a speed limit of 25 mph is Fort Vancouver Way, which cuts through the Clark College campus and is full of pedestrians and cars turning into and out of parking lots.

Jeers: To lack of a complete safety plan at a waste conversion plant on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which lies along the Columbia River upstream of Clark County. The Associated Press reported recently that the federal government says a $12.3 billion nuclear waste handling facility under construction at Hanford will be safe, but at the same time admits it lacks the information to resolve some technical problems and write a complete safety plan. Before the plant starts to operate in 2019, the government must resolve all technical issues.