In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

New ways to preserve local history;area loses out on foreclosure dollars



Cheers: To two developments that will serve to protect and promote local history.First comes the welcome news that Vancouver's Pearson Field will be designated a Historic Aerospace Site at a ceremony to be held next Saturday, Sept. 8. The American Institution of Aeronautics and Astronautics confers the honor to preserve accomplishments in flying and share the stories behind them. It finds the perfect candidate at Pearson. The first airplane landed there in 1911 — only eight years after the Wright brothers' first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. — and has seen many milestones, including the 1937 landing of three Soviet aviators who completed the first transpolar flight.

The second activity occurred just up the hill from the historic airfield. This summer the National Park Service took the first action toward conserving the East and South Barracks area, in part by pruning back several large fir trees that dropped needles, which, in turn, overflowed the gutters on the historic U.S. Army buildings. It's the start of the park service's care-taking campaign for the century-old buildings. The facilities must be preserved and protected before they can be restored as historic attractions or transition into new uses. Other projects on this summer's to-do list include securing doors and windows and catching up on some deferred maintenance, such as water leaks.

Jeers: To Clark County losing out on part of the state's $43.8 million share of a national foreclosure settlement. The money will be divided among other regions of the state, despite the fact that Clark County has been hit harder than most areas by the Great Recession and has an above-average home mortgage foreclosure rate. A local coalition submitted an application asking for $7 million to buy houses from homeowners on the brink of foreclosure, and then helping them to stay in the home and eventually repurchase it. But the application was rejected. "It wasn't as thoroughly thought out as we would have liked," said Glenn Crellin, a University of Washington professor who helped dole out the money. We need to do better next time.

Cheers: To progress (finally!) on the road improvements that will ease traffic burdens on Northeast 134th Street in Salmon Creek. The Washington State Department of Transportation's contractors have kicked off the construction of a 1,200-foot-long overpass that will carry Northeast 139th Street over Interstate 5 and Interstate 205, allowing cross-freeway traffic to bypass 134th Street. It will take about two more years before you can drive from WSU Vancouver to Fred Meyer without enduring the perpetual 134th Street crawl.

Jeers: To hate crimes against members of the Sikh faith. The issue was brought into the spotlight with an Aug. 5 shooting at a temple in Wisconsin by an alleged white supremacist. In Vancouver, hundreds responded by turning out for a vigil at the local Sikh temple. This week, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell joined with 18 other U.S. senators asking the Justice Department to collect information on and track hate crimes against Sikhs. The department currently tracks hate crimes against members of other faiths, including Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Muslims.

Cheers: To people who have had their cats spayed and neutered. Cat overpopulation is a perennial problem in Clark County, but an increase in responsible pet ownership has reduced the number of feline intakes at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington's shelter. Intakes fell 33 percent between 2007 and 2011, to 9,141 cats. That's still too many, and the shelter has instituted a by-appointment rule for drop-offs to control the spread of disease and promote responsible pet ownership. Even with fewer intakes, too many cats still wait too long to find new homes.