Cheers: To Vancouver Public Schools' expanding network of family and community resource centers. The centers are now found on 11 of the school district's 32 campuses, serving 5,400 of the district's 22,400 students. As The Columbian's Tom Vogt reported in Wednesday's Neighbors section, these are places where families can access academic and early-learning programs, health and social services, youth activities, and some resources for parents. At Harney Elementary School, for example, Tia Vasquez says the after-school soccer program offered by the resource center is her favorite activity of the school week. Other children might get their kicks playing chess. The centers cost a total of $750,000 per year to operate, but many other organizations pick up the bulk of the costs. Most importantly, the centers have proven to be successful at improving lives and students' academic achievement.
Jeers: To turkey fires. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in recent years more than 2,000 such fires have been reported to local fire departments over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of the fires can be traced to deep-frying the turkey, a practice that has gained favor in recent years. There are several hazards, including the spattering when home cooks put a wet bird into hot oil or overheat or overfill the pot. The safest practices are to cook the turkey outdoors and well away from structures -- not on a deck or in the garage -- and never leave the bird unattended, even to go refill your beverage. That action, of course, could pose hazards of its own.
Cheers: To local groups that offered free Thanksgiving meals, and to those community members who volunteered to serve them. Among those providing service on Thanksgiving Day were Chronis' Restaurant and Superior Court Judge Rich Melnick; Da Kine Cafe; the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Vancouver; Lord's Gym; Share House and the Knights of Columbus. And a cheer to those who volunteer to serve meals on days other than Thanksgiving or Christmas; local charities report that they receive a lot of calls from would-be volunteers for those days, while other days go begging. Unfortunately, hunger is a problem that endures.
Jeers: To people who ignore advice to be prepared for earthquakes. For them, this week's 3.2 magnitude temblor should have provided a wake-up call — literally, since it hit at 6:15 a.m. The tremor was 12 miles below ground, near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, and may or may not be tied to a fault known as the Portland Hills Fault. It hardly matters. As with all places on the Pacific Rim, Clark County is prone to earthquakes, including the feared Cascadia quake with the potential to cause many deaths and injuries and catastrophic loss. It might not hit in our lifetimes. But it could, and it is worth taking the time to educate yourself on preparedness and take appropriate action.
Cheers: To progress at Mount St. Helens. As nature continues its recovery, the volcano in Skamania County continues to tell a changing story to repeat visitors. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, rightly called St. Helens "a treasure to our region" at a meeting this week to review the U.S. Forest Service's management of 110,000 acres of land and several associated visitor facilities. Mount St. Helens National Monument Manager Tom Mulder noted numerous facility upgrades, including reopening of the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center, and increasing recreational opportunities, including upgraded trails and kayaking and mountain biking.