In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Art galleries survive the recession; I-5 bridge repairs drag on and on

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Cheers: To downtown art galleries that have found a way to slog through the Great Recession. If the economy and homebuilding and buying slump have been hard on businesses that sell the necessities of life, imagine the impact on art galleries and artists. But Vancouver galleries have persevered, most by diversifying into side businesses. Angst Gallery offers a tea bar, and a wine bar next door. Aurora Gallery offers custom framing. And Northbank Artist Community rents studio space to artists. The result keeps downtown diversified and vital, and keeps local art where an appreciative public can see it.

Jeers: To this spring's seemingly never-ending repairs to the Interstate 5 Bridge. A problem developed on the southbound span with the rollers that move the huge concrete counterweight up and down. Since April that has led the Oregon Department of Transportation to a series of nighttime closures, which are likely to persist into next week and perhaps longer. So far, the closures have been limited to overnight hours, but there have also been longer-than-usual bridge lifts during the daytime, further inconveniencing motorists. It's all the more proof that the nearly 100-year-old span has reached the end of its useful life and is ripe for replacement.

Cheers: To Bike Clark County, a nonprofit group founded by Vancouver firefighter Eric Giacchino. "Our mission is to advocate for a better, safer cycling community in Clark County," he told The Columbian's Marissa Harshman. "One way to do that is teach middle-schoolers to bike safer." That's why he and some others were recently at Wy'east Middle School, putting seventh-graders through their paces. It's worth remembering that only three years ago, a Wy'east student suffered life-changing injuries while riding a bicycle near the school.

Jeers: To a four-hour flight seated next to someone else's 6-year-old instead of your own family member. The Associated Press reports that airlines are once again trying to extract extra fees from customers. The latest gambit is to charge extra -- $25 is a popular fee -- for passengers to reserve aisle or window seats. In some cases, those seats are being reserved for certain customers, such as an airline's most valued frequent fliers. What's likely to result all too often is this scenario: A family declines to pay extra for adjacent seating, assuming the airline will switch seats around to get a parent next to Junior. The airline says no, and you end up next to the kid, or in the middle seat that was formerly the child's.

Cheers: To a new partnership between the Clark County Vulnerable Adult Task Force and the Human Services Council. The partnership allows the task force to solicit tax-deductible donations to fund its educational efforts. In return, the Human Services Council will retain a modest 5 percent of the donations to cover its costs of banking and filing reports. By joining an experienced nonprofit group and not having to form its own corporation, the task force will save several thousand dollars in legal and administrative costs and can focus on its important mission. With the recent opening of the county's Elder Justice Center to prosecute cases of elder abuse, the task force is shifting its focus to educational efforts and fostering cooperation between professionals and public workers in protecting elders.

Jeers: To Japanese knotweed, one of the world's worst invasive species and a problem in the Salmon Creek watershed. The plant, identifiable by its bamboolike stalks, oval leaves and small white flowers, crowds out native plants. It's even more aggressive and harder to control than the Himalayan blackberries that are seemingly everywhere. To fight the Japanese invader, Clark Public Utilities' StreamTeam program, armed with a $74,000 grant, will deploy eradication teams this summer. The StreamTeam needs volunteers; for information, call 360-992-8787 or visit http://www.StreamTeam.net.