In our view: Cheers & Jeers

Successful harvest for farmers market; bridge pontoons sprout leaks



Cheers: To the Vancouver Farmers Market, which successfully concluded its 23rd regular season on Sunday. From its former location on lower Main Street, it's become a full-fledged visitor attraction, a cultural happening and a community landmark next to Esther Short Park. According to Jordan Boldt, the market's executive director, an estimated 360,000 people visited the market during its March through October run, a 40 percent increase from 2011. So it follows that many of its 180 vendors reported record sales. Besides the economic boost, the market has given back in other ways, including awarding scholarships totaling $5,000 to students interested in ag-related careers.Though the regular season is over, the market will be back with three holiday-season offerings. A Harvest Market will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17; a Tree Lighting Market will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23; and a Holiday Market will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 inside the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

Jeers: To leaky bridge pontoons. While we've all been absorbed in the Columbia River Crossing, the Washington State Department of Transportation has already started building giant concrete pontoons for a new floating bridge across Lake Washington. The six-lane bridge is part of a $4 billion project to improve 13 miles of state Highway 520 between Seattle and its eastern suburbs.

Unfortunately, at least two of the first six pontoons showed small cracks, and some leaks have resulted. The leaks can be repaired and changes made in the construction of 61 remaining pontoons, according to WSDOT. At least the state had yet to accept the leaky pontoons from the contractor.

Cheers: To Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey and his staff for putting most of the marriage application process online. Happy couples still have to appear at the county Public Service Center to pay the fee and sign their license, but the online form takes a lot of the sting out of the process. Spouse can't remember where his mother was born? You won't have to stand in line at the counter while he calls his mother. And, even if you come prepared with all the vital statistics, you might not have to worry about getting stuck behind someone who didn't.

Jeers: To an online payday lender based on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Indian Reservation in South Dakota. According to the state Department of Financial Services, the lender has made thousands of loans to Washington residents, despite not being licensed to do so. Even if the lender had been licensed, loans were made at interest rates of up to 1,825 percent, greatly exceeding the state usury law's 12 percent interest limit and the 25 percent allowed under the Consumer Loan Act. The state has issued a Statement of Charges against the lender, Martin Webb, and five of his companies: Western Sky Financial, Payday Financial, Great Sky Finance, Green Billow, and Red Stone Financial. Many of these companies do business under several other names.

Cheers: To Popeye, Jack Sparrow, Batman and all the other celebrants at a recent Halloween party for young people with developmental disabilities. "These kids are separated from the start of their lives. So it's hard for them to make friends," said party host Mary Siebert of Ridgefield. More than 60 people attended the party. Now that the party's over, the good news is that the socializing is not. The group meets regularly for various events including gymnastics, dances and church fellowships. For information, call Carol White, 360-798-3642.